Would you buy a car online?
Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier for consumers to find out what a car is worth or where to make a purchase. As a consequence, technology has paved the way for car sales that can take place without a customer even setting foot inside a car showroom as most of the paperwork can be dealt with online, too.
Although car listings which provide viewing, data and online contact portals to generate leads have been available for years, more recently dealerships and other sales platforms have begun to introduce options where a buyer can get their trade-in appraised, finance approved, paperwork signed and delivery scheduled to their door rendering it an online purchase from start to finish.
And, it’s probably no coincidence that the emergence of online-only sellers, a change in consumer habits, and the coronavirus pandemic have sped up the move by dealerships to offer transactions online. Over the past few years, many dealers have developed different online offerings and as online-only sellers have emerged and lockdown occurred, dealers may well have accelerated their plans.
When we consider the appeal of online purchases (which may be further enhanced by the provision of similar guarantees to physical showrooms such as price matches and no-quibble returns) it’s reasonable to predict that it is, and will continue to be, a growth sales area.
And yet, don’t dealerships offer a tangible experience that you can’t get with an online-only sales sites?
For most people, this is a big purchase. The anticipation, the opportunity to sit in the vehicle, to test drive and examine it in the metal and even the haggling have long been part of the purchase experience – not to mention the aftersales support and the advice of a real salesperson should they think there is a better alternative to the customer’s original choice.
Perhaps a compromise is for customers not to think of online sales options as a replacement for the traditional model, but rather as simply another route to engagement. After all, a streamlined, speedy process is not much use if the customer doesn’t actually end up with the car that they want.
Though the internet can provide the opportunity for customers to do their research and increase their knowledge, for many that’s just a precursor to the physical dealer experience and the desire for customer service.