With the ubiquity of the Internet, there are certain items that are just easier to buy online. For some, purchasing books, music, toys and even groceries is an exclusively digital process. Still, many people will express that there are special items, like perfectly fitting jeans, that need to be experienced firsthand before a final sale is made. Traditionally, cars have fallen under the latter category, as it's customary to at least do a test drive before officially committing to a new set of wheels.
This could all be changing, however, as pioneers in online car sales are encouraging consumers to forgo trips to dealerships in favor of a few clicks on their computers.
Are digital sales the next trend in car buying?
According to Max Zanan, it's only a matter of time before purchasing a car is akin to ordering a pizza – a few swipes of your finger on your smartphone and the product arrives at your door moments later. Zanan is the CEO and co-founder of IDDS Group, a consulting firm whose specialty is car retailers, explained the Boston Globe. He believes that the popularity of quick and easy Internet sales, which has already spread to most major industries, will soon have an important place in the world of car buying.
"Consumers already research dealerships online."
Although initially it might seem irresponsible or even downright crazy to buy a car without visiting a dealership, Zanan explained to the Globe that most people are essentially doing this already. It's rare for someone to arrive at a car dealership with no idea what he or she wants in terms of features, models, pricing and even colors. Most consumers spend hours researching automotive brands, car dealership reviews and even specific salesmen before getting off the Internet and setting foot in a brick-and-mortar store.
Zanan noted that it's simple to find quality information about vehicles and dealers online, so many customers take advantage of websites before heading out to shop. Zanan's organization simply wants to take it a step further. Not only will buyers be able to get all the info they need about potential vehicles, but they'll also be able to sign papers and review contracts and bills online. He recognizes that test drives will likely still be necessities for most people, so he hopes to apply the pizza delivery analogy to this process as well – consumers will just click to request a trial, and a salesman will arrive at their doorsteps with a tester vehicle a little while later.
Internet purchases will extend to all areas of car industry
IDDS is confident that digital selling platforms are the future of automotive sales, whether for entire cars or just pieces. The consulting firm recently came out in support of Larry H. Miller Dealerships, an organization that's started selling car parts directly to consumers from its website. Zanan explained in an IDDS article that offering online services like this is absolutely essential for car dealers looking to remain relevant and cutting-edge.
"There are so many different things that a car dealer can do, but first and foremost, they need to concentrate on customer retention. So, the dealers that are extremely successful with parts and service start their process in sales," said Zanan.