I found this article in "The Week" magazine (July 17, 2009) reprinted from The Washington Post and thought I'd share.
"Why We Don't Need Car Dealers" - Charles Lane, The Washington Post
"Why, in this day and age, should I have to haggle with 'grinning salesmen' when it's time to buy a car? asked Charles Lane. The short answer is that car dealers are protected by state laws that give them exclusive sales territories and bar online competitors. Such laws might have made sense once upon a time, when dealers needed an incentive to invest in showrooms and inventory. But this 'old business model has been obsolete for decades,' and is completely anachronistic in the age of the Internet. Were it not for those laws, I could browse a manufacturer's website, choose my model and equip it the way I like it, and then take delivery a few days later. The bankruptcy filings by Chrysler and General Motors offer a chance to move to this more efficient, lower-cost distribution model and break the stranglehold of the dealers. But powerful congressional Democrats are backing a federal bill that would preserve the dealers' unfair advantages. If they prevail, the dealers will once again be 'exercising political clout at the expense of the car-buying public.'"
It's interesting that, at the very least, this person has this viewpoint. I submit that car dealers provide a valuable service to the car-buying public. Without car dealers, where would one test drive cars? Where would one go for factory service or warranty repairs? How would you trade-in a car? Who would help with financing?
This person's viewpoint seems like a two-headed snake to me. While this columnist can whine about the injustices forced upon him by car dealerships, he would whine just as loud when he had a problem with this car (that he bought online sans dealer) but nobody to listen to him or help him with it.
In our industry, it's the trend that we are making it easier and easier for people to not only communicate with us in whatever means they feel comfortable - in person, email, phone, chat, etc - but we make it as easy as possible for them to buy a car from us.
I believe this person is simply - uneducated. He could just about accomplish what he wanted to RIGHT NOW. There are many dealers that would facilitate just such a transaction and do so on a daily basis. I believe this person is simply just unaware that this option exists for him.
At the very least, I'd be willing to bet that the dealer that could show THIS consumer that he COULD buy a car this way FROM THEM would probably get at least one more sale and a customer for life.
As more people get enlightened to the internet car buying experience, it will be increasingly important for car dealerships to adapt to maximize their opportunities with EVERY consumer.
The most successful dealers will be the ones who cater to all shopping consumers - not just the ones walking in the front door....right now.