Ask most car buyers about the car-buying process, and one of the first things mentioned is that they’re tired of spending hours at a dealership trying to buy a car. How can this be improved? One of the areas we’re seeing the biggest change happens to be meeting customer demands is the online car buying experience.
Haig Partners said nearly 30% of U.S. new car sales in 2020 were completed online. So, online car buying is becoming increasingly popular, and it’s easy to see why. Customers can browse various cars with the convenience of an online showroom and complete most of the buying process online.
As reported in U.S. News, “In most cases, though, a final trip to a dealership is still needed to go for a thorough test drive, to sign the paperwork, and to take delivery of the car.” So, dealers still have the opportunity for face-to-face interaction.
But, like any new business model, online car buying has challenges. So, let’s go over some of the major friction points.
First Friction Point for Buying Vehicles Online: The Importance of Personal Interaction
One of the most significant challenges is the need for more personal interaction. Although a buyer often doesn’t enjoy having a salesperson follow them around the dealership, customers want to feel confident and secure in their purchase. And with the online experience, personal interaction with the customer is even more essential to answer questions about the car’s features, performance, and actual vehicle cost. And a dealership that can serve as an advisor who can listen to the customer’s needs can make the sale a better experience.
Be the Expert
In addition, since customers are accustomed to doing their own online research through services like TrueCar, it’s easier to get information. So, dealership representatives must be knowledgeable and trusted advisors by providing clear and responsive communication through email, phone, and chat support.
Second Friction Point for Buying Vehicles Online: The Essential Need for Transparency
Another challenge is the need for more transparency in pricing and financing. Recent studies show that only 19 percent of customers believe the car buying process is transparent. They want to know the actual cost of the car, including any additional fees and financing charges.
Strong dealerships can build customer trust by offering insight into the process, transparent pricing, and financing information upfront. As a result, the customer will want to visit you regarding the final numbers.
Although car buyers begin their car buying process online, they find value in the in-person experience. Negotiations are an essential part of the car buying process, and 61 percent say these need to happen in person.
Detailed Information & Virtual Tours
Moreover, customers are often skeptical of purchasing a vehicle online because they have questions, want to see the car, or want to test drive the car physically. This lack of interaction can lead to uncertainty and distrust. Dealerships can alleviate these concerns by providing detailed information about the vehicle, including high-quality photographs, videos, and virtual tours.
Remote Test Drives
Additionally, dealerships can offer remote test drives, where a representative will bring the vehicle to the customer’s location for a test drive. By providing transparency in pricing and financing and detailed information about the car, dealerships can overcome a significant friction point of buying vehicles online and build a strong relationship with their customers.
Third Friction Point for Buying Vehicles Online: The Benefit of Added Value
If every dealer focuses on the best price and works on communication and transparency, does it matter where a car is bought? Well, this is where the importance of added value comes in. Dealerships that are ahead of the curve will go beyond the basics and offer something extra.
For example, dealerships can offer value-added services like Elo GPS and CarRx, which provide anti-theft vehicle location devices and vehicle health monitoring capabilities. These services can help customers feel secure in their investments and set dealers apart from their competition.
Additionally, dealers can offer the option of home delivery, which saves customers time and hassle. Capital One says less than half (39%) of car buyers say they are willing to order and wait for the delivery of their next car. So, having a vehicle in stock and ready to be delivered is essential.
If you’re a dealership that makes the buying process more streamlined, responsive, and user-friendly, you’ll be a more attractive option for busy consumers.
Are You Ready?
Buying a car online is an excellent option for customers who are comfortable with ordering everything from food to appliances and clothing online, especially if they can have a convenient and accessible car-buying experience. With the right strategies in place, dealerships can ensure a smooth and successful sale, and customers will have the confidence they need to make a purchase.