These days, just about anything can be purchased online.
From food and booze to clothing and electronics – all can be purchased with just a few clicks.
A recent survey conducted by Root & Associates even revealed that 86% of car buyers would choose a dealership that offered online car-buying capability over one that did not. Over half of the participants in this study even stated that they were “extremely” or “very likely” to conduct their entire car purchase online. This includes selecting the specific car and model, negotiating the final price, submitting their credit information and filling out paperwork. Physically going into the dealership for one final inspection of the vehicle before driving off would be the final step.
What does this mean for dealerships? They’ll need to start focusing less on the in-dealership experience and more on their online presence and offer.
Today’s car-buyers grew up online, meaning that dealerships will soon have to adapt to consumer demands.
Many may be surprised to learn that millennials are currently the largest generation purchasing cars in America. AutoRaptor reports that this generation spends approximately 17 hours on research prior to purchasing a vehicle, with 45% of their research being completed on their cellphones.
Millennials are optimizing the car-buying process more than consumers ever have before. Car buyers are more educated about the process than they ever have been as well. They are ready to invest the time it takes to find exactly what they’re looking for. When shopping for a new car, nearly 2/3 of Americans go online to compare brands, prices, models and features before actually heading into a dealership. They also look for real-time auto advice and analyze different incentives and financing options before speaking to a single salesperson.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that the internet-generation does not have the attention span many dealerships might hope for. This is why it is extremely vital for dealerships to get their brand and message across to them quickly. While a video is powerful enough to do this today, what about tomorrow?
The way we shop for cars is changing. Fast.
Old-school dealers can’t afford to ignore the digital world any longer. Dealerships need to ensure they are covering all of their bases. From a clean and informative website to quick responses on their social media platforms.
In this day and age, car buyers are more educated about the process than ever before and ready to invest the time it takes to find exactly what they want. This means that if your dealership isn’t creating a memorable buying experience both online and off, your buyers will take their business elsewhere.
Consumers have armed themselves with all of the specs on every vehicle thanks to the internet. With their research finished, all that’s left to do is stop in at the dealership to see their vehicle in the metal and complete the transaction.
While digital dealerships are gaining traction, there will be another shift before we know it.
Technology and hardware are becoming readily available and consumers looking for a way to experience cars outside of the showroom. This can only mean one thing: virtual reality will soon be sweeping the automotive industry.
Imagine having the ability to virtually walk around a car or sit inside the vehicle to get a better understanding of its size. To see its interior and get a feel for what it would be like to drive.
Now imagine doing this from your living room.
Virtual reality provides an immersive way to connect with, and experience, the car in advance of a test drive. It adds another layer to the research process.
Another perk of putting on the virtual reality goggles? Avoiding the sales pitch. Without feeling the pressure of the showroom, car buyers can make their decision in their own pace and time.
Virtual reality and digital dealerships allow for convenience and efficiency. Any time not being spent sitting around at the dealership during the car-buying process is considered efficient. Having the freedom to conduct most of the car-buying process on your own time (and away from a high-pressure environment) is considered convenient.
While the virtual showroom is in its infancy, many believe that it will revolutionize the automotive industry and become a key piece of technology in helping consumers decide on their next vehicle.
Although the vehicle sales process isn’t going to completely change overnight, we are certainly laying the groundwork for it today. When the market demands it, automotive dealers will be ready to make the switch.