The automotive industry is at the forefront of digital transformation, with digital retailing quickly becoming the preferred method of purchasing vehicles. In the past decade, we’ve seen a steady increase in digital automobile sales, dramatically impacting how consumers shop for cars. In this blog post, we’ll explore how digital automotive retailing is changing the way we buy cars and what this means for the future of automotive sales.
Why Automotive Sales are Going Digital
My first thought is, of course, it is going digital. I cannot remember the last thing I “retailed” that was not digital. Can you? My second thought is the consumer anxiety of a big ticket item = long sales processes, like a car or a home. How much can I do online, at home, on a plane, after hours, etc.? And my third thought is that consumers trust OEM quality; they are often more interested in the technology in a vehicle than the tangible fit and finish, which can relegate the test drive to a secondary event to understand the user interface and tech options.
I recently relocated across the country. With a full-time (and then some) role as President of Dominion DMS, opening a new office, moving into a new home, and all of the surprises of everyday life, I gravitate to anything and everything I can do online first and online finish. I found myself agitated when I would get halfway through an online process with the DMV or insurance agency, only to discover that I needed to make a phone call or [cringe] an appointment at the physical location.
Going somewhere takes time, even if the process is optimized and efficient once you get where you are going. Getting there is often the issue—carving out blocks away from the job or office, finding a sitter, or coordinating the effort around the school schedule. The traffic! Oh, and please don’t suggest a Saturday. I have a long list of other in-person tasks reserved for that day.
How to Sell Automobiles Digitally
You can now shop for a car, negotiate the deal, and even finance it from the comfort of your home. This convenience allows you to fit car shopping into your schedule without sacrificing the quality or value of the purchase. Sales associates are available to help online shoppers find what they need, and online retailers can often offer discounts and other incentives to improve the online shopping experience.
Digital automotive sales are here to stay. This is excellent news for those who want to make car shopping easy. There are a variety of tools you can use to see and sell automobiles digitally.
Dealerships can partner with a trusted digital automotive retailer to help maximize their online presence. You can work with a partner to provide an easy-to-use website where customers can browse and purchase your vehicles. You can partner with a digital automotive provider to set up financing options for customers, allowing them to select vehicles digitally and even apply for financing in the same place. These tools make digital automotive sales easy and hassle-free for consumers.
I have spent 30 years in the automotive software industry, but almost exclusively in the Dealer Management System space. The Dominion DMS cloud-native platform VUE has many valued partners in the Digital Retailing space. Check out the following for tools that meet your needs and seamlessly integrate into the VUE platform: Car Gurus, Car Now, CarsforSale, Credit Miner, Dealer Inspire, J.D. Power, Option Soft, and TheCRM.
What the Future Holds for Automotive Sales
As the automotive industry shifts towards digital sales, franchised automotive dealerships must find ways to compete with online car-buying platforms such as Carvana and Vroom. To remain competitive, dealerships need to concentrate on the needs of their customers first.
Sales should no longer be focused solely on the dealership lot but rather on a combination of physical and digital locations. Automotive retailers need to recognize that many potential customers are now researching cars online, and providing buyers with an easy-to-use online purchasing process is essential. Available tools range from creating virtual showrooms to offering video tours to providing customers with digital payment and financing options. Let’s not forget that all vehicles recently sold become an organic referral and test drive for all prospects that ride in them; friends, relatives, Uber passengers, etc.
Automotive retailers must ensure their website is up-to-date and user-friendly to compete with the convenience of online car-buying platforms. Offering customers the ability to schedule test drives online and browse an online inventory of vehicles can provide a much smoother sales experience for buyers. Furthermore, offering promotional discounts and loyalty programs can entice new customers and keep existing ones returning.
The future of automotive sales is changing rapidly, and dealerships must take steps to stay ahead of the competition. By providing customers with a more convenient, digital car buying experience, dealerships can remain competitive in an ever-evolving landscape.
The successful dealers of the future will have implemented an omnichannel process for their consumers to move from ‘screen to store’ or stay on screen for the entire process. If you have not engaged with your consumers entirely online for their car buying process, you must speak to one of Dominion DMS’ partner experts or be left behind. Visit Car Gurus, Car Now, CarsforSale, Credit Miner, Dealer Inspire, J.D. Power, Option Soft, and TheCRM to see how their tools can help you thrive.