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That online shopping trend is carrying over to automotive sales, according to a survey by Chase, which says that 47 percent of Americans would be comfortable buying a car online from start to finish.
• The test drive. A full 74 percent of survey respondents indicated they want to test drive a vehicle before purchasing. That’s a deterrent from online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay from becoming a mainstream new car seller as test drives can’t be done before clicking to buy.
• Negotiation. Nearly half of those asked didn’t feel that buying a car online provided a forum for negotiating the final sale price. The current expectation is that the retail price is not a fair selling price, and haggling a better deal is the desired practice.
• Financing. While customers would love the ability to complete financing paperwork completely online, that’s simply not possible in many areas. Jurisdictions across America require physical pen-on-paper signatures to complete financing arrangements, not just a digital signature.
• Availability. Manufacturers and individual dealers are exploring the ability to provide wholly online car shopping for their customers, but it’s not yet mainstream. That means that the customer still cannot finish the car buying process online, and still needs to visit the dealership.
The current dealership structure is still the best way to make a sale, but that’s certainly going to change with online shopping trends.
Acknowledge that customers want a different experience. Begin to develop resources and processes at the store level to make changes less difficult in the future.
Customers want a test drive before the sale, so meet them where they are for off-site test drives. Do the same for the financing process where dried ink is the only option for signing the agreement.
Don’t sit back and see how others do before going all in. When the possibility to become an online retailer presents itself, be among the first to implement it. Those who try to remain a traditional brick-and-mortar dealer only will feel an immediate effect.
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