Car dealerships are moving online – Are we looking at the future of automotive retail?

Buying an automobile during the coronavirus pandemic seems quite outrageous. However, it’s necessary to have a means of getting around, whether you’re allowed to go to work or planning to head over to the supermarket to buy weeks’ worth of supplies. Owing to the legal and technical obstacles, the car buying experience has become contactless. At least, it didn’t become obsolete. 

Car dealerships are moving their sales online. The outbreak of coronavirus has determined auto dealerships to move their businesses on the Internet to protect consumers’ health and wellbeing. An ever-increasing number of people are embracing online commerce and, most importantly, supporting local enterprises, which is no little thing. 

The good news is that companies don’t have to shut their doors and they can manage to handle the COVID-19 outbreak. At present, there is an urgent need for change in automotive sales, which is completely achievable in spite of the challenging economic and political situation. Overall demand is softening and competition is fierce, which means that enterprises have to find new ways to differentiate themselves from established and new organizations. 

If you’d like to find more about how coronavirus is impacting car sales, keep on reading. 

The way we buy cars isn’t the same anymore 

Back in the old days, you would go to the auto dealership and pick out a ride that you liked. The process usually involved research, price location, and negotiation. If you decide to buy a vehicle, you’ll most likely discover that the path to purchase has changed radically. Nowadays, if you want to acquire an automobile, you have to turn on your computer and find a platform dedicated to buyers and sellers alike. 

It’s important to understand that auto dealerships are required to work under the conditions of the novel coronavirus restrictions. Therefore, they rely to a great extent on Internet sales and video demos for everything from test drives to oil changes. Needless to say, shopping isn’t merely an Internet-enabled transaction. So, what is it then? It reflects the customer journey that starts with product awareness and moves onto purchase and, then, fulfillment. 

Even if some countries still allow dealerships to keep their doors open, many prefer making the transition to the online medium. Why? Simply because they have a lot to gain. Online is where customers are? Motor vehicle dealerships have the power to simplify remote and electronic sales or leases, and they should take advantage of it. The rules can change any day now, so, even if dealers can book two appointments per hour, the situation might not remain the same for too long. 

Sellers will be forced to close their doors and move their activities online. Dozens of companies are taking into consideration the possibility of selling online, realizing that the best time to do it was yesterday. Brands across the world are commercializing organically grown CBD hemp flower buds that don’t get you high. It’s just an example. The point is that businesses of all kinds are moving their activities from offline to online as the world sits down to watch Netflix or play online games. 

Is the current automotive sales model outdated? 

There’s no denying the fact that the current car sales and distribution method could use some improvement. Acquiring an automobile based on the traditional dealership model doesn’t engender a great deal of trust. The number of employees more often than not makes it difficult, if not impossible for buyers to establish genuine relationships, not to mention build trust, especially when it comes down to repeat sales. 

It’s not to say that the COVID-19 outbreak is a good thing. The devastating economic consequences that strike now will be felt for years to come. However, we must acknowledge the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has brought about much-needed change. To be more precise, the process of buying a ride at the dealership becomes less complicated. There isn’t a lot of paperwork to fill out, besides the fact that the actual purchase isn’t delayed until further notice. 

All in all, car dealerships should improve their online efforts and recognize that online is the new norm. People are willing to buy and businesses can’t wait to make sales. So, why not let customers do everything online? Digital signatures and electronic records legitimize the transaction; numerous states have adopted laws in this respect. Plus, we live in a society that no longer prefers paper documents. It’s what you would call a win-win situation. 

There’s no reason to spend so much time at the office when the buyer can come to a virtual dealership. Showrooms should do their best to revolutionize the auto industry which is facing a new era. Owing to the latest evolutions in technology, it’s possible to sell a car without being present. And that’s the beauty of it. We’re slowly but surely heading towards online sales and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

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Comment by Chris Saraceno on April 27, 2020 at 1:06pm


Thank you for Sharing your opinion 

Comment by JIm Fisher on April 27, 2020 at 12:44pm

Good Article.

However, the two oldest professions are salesperson and you know what the other one is.  People shop analytically.  That can be done on the internet, over the phone or even in person.  However, until that person gets emotional, nothing happens.  Some analytical people can make a decision without help, but normally they get forced into that decision and they continue to question after the fact.

What is a salesperson's job?  It is to take the analytical and learned information the customer has gotten and either reinforce it or provide solutions to the information they have received.  Once they do that, closing is just making sure that everything is answered to the customer's satisfaction and the decision is made.

When a customer comes into a dealership, the most important part of the presentation is the Product Presentation and the Demo.  It is proven that closing ratio is directly affected by Demo %.  Why?  Because a Demo gets the customer emotionally involved in 5 ways:  Sight -Touch-Smell or lack of-Sound or lack of:

I feel that preparation to purchase in many cases will change for some customers, but not for all.  Dealerships should have inventory on line, trade in values available, pre-qualification for credit, chat capabilities and whatever else will provide enough information to get them in the door or to provide appointments for bringing a vehicle to the customer.

The modern automobile dealerships basically started in the 1950s when competition started because of the returnees from the war.  Financing and trade ins became important.  Most Salespeople in dealerships did more work outside of the dealership then waiting until customers came in.  They would make appointments, go door to door offering demos and would Show their demo off at gatherings.  It might be a good idea to have salespeople go back to doing those things.

When the internet started, Dealerships embraced because they felt they could get rid of their salespeople and Manufacturers embraced because they though they could get rid of dealerships.  That has no happened in the last 20 years and will not happen in the near future.

Purchasing large items which an automobile is take an emotional event to make them purchase.  The dealerships can either wait until that happens to a person who has to make a decision or start planning for other ways to interact with customers.

I always told my salespeople that if they are not laughing , smiling or upset, I can not close them.  How to get customers online laughing, smiling or upset will be very hard.  Maybe virtual meetings will become the norm where that can be done.   Maybe incorporating that in your website would be an idea.

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