Watch out Tin Men—those dealership days are numbered.
Technology is becoming convenient enough for consumers to take the back seat from on-the-spot purchases and the auto retail industry is no exception. As more people embrace a new digital reality, with it comes some innovative upgrades to the car buying process.
Online to avoid haggling
The way consumers are purchasing vehicles has changed drastically over the past decade. According to Autotrader, 83 percent of buyers use the Internet to shop for cars through third-party websites. Consumers trust the Internet more than the salesperson at their local dealer. They have access to a plethora of knowledge, comparables and customer reviews, all at their fingertips. 81 percent of auto shoppers today rely on their smartphones when researching vehicles. Consumers can walk away from their device feeling empowered with the insight gained from their research.
And then there were some
“Now that access to the auto market is available online, the competitive advantage of a convenient location has flattened out” (TrustPilot). Shoppers are even more reluctant to step foot on a dealership. A Consumer Automotive Index by Beepi reported that 87 percent of car shoppers dislike the dealership experience, 61 percent feel like they’re being taken advantage of, and 52 percent of shoppers feel anxious. This consumer avoidance is leading to location cutbacks: according to a report released by ABC News, American auto manufacturers General Motors and Ford have reduced their dealerships by 229 and 139 as of July 2018.
87 percent of car shoppers dislike the dealership experience
Overcoming the hurdle
For car dealers to overcome these challenges, some things have to change. To stay afloat, dealerships must have an online presence for their audience to stay engaged and trust their purchase decision. There’s a select crowd that will continue visiting physical dealerships. However, these consumers are likely to be well-informed, savvy shoppers that have done their homework. Salespeople beware.