Why did it take a global pandemic for online car buying to become something that was offered by most dealerships around the country?
This question is one that you should want to be answered because there seems to be no reason for the lack of this feature before the pandemic. We have been able to buy many products online for several years, but cars weren’t offered with complete online sales until the pandemic struck.
Thank You COVID-19
The pandemic that struck with the onset of COVID-19 shut the world down for several weeks and created widespread loss and death. You might think there wouldn’t be much at all to be thankful for when it comes to something that took so many lives, shut down many businesses, and created hate and turmoil around the world, but we have one item to thank this pandemic for. That one item is online car buying.
The Scramble of Car Dealers
As the pandemic struck, we saw more widespread use of remote tools for learning, communicating by work teams, and many businesses offering contactless ways to do business. Car dealers were not prepared to face a sales crisis brought on by a pandemic and turned to their digital agencies to help them solve the challenges facing them. These challenges were quickly met and once the logistics of delivering cars were in place, online car sales began.
Technology Embraced Created Online Car Buying Around the Country
To create a world in which a customer could buy a car without leaving their home, car dealers had to do something many have avoided for the past few decades; embrace technology. Sure, every dealership has a website and most are active on social media, but the importance of technology has always been overshadowed bythe old-school sales approach that dealerships have used for years.
When it became evident that only the most necessary workers were going to be at their places of employment and customers were not going to take a chance of contracting COVID-19 by going out in public, car dealers weren’t going to see customers in the showrooms and be able to offer a personal approach to the sale. Instead, they turned to online car buying to give shoppers what they wanted.
What Have Dealers Offered for Online Sales?
The goal for most dealerships and their digital teams was to create a virtual environment with all aspects of the car buying process offered online. This meant meeting with the dealership team through a virtual meeting format such as Zoom, offering a virtual test drive with a camera running while the salesperson is behind the wheel, and creating an easy, online method for completing the sales contract.
Some dealerships still required paperwork to be filled out with an original handwritten signature, which caused a bit of a snag in this plan. Other dealerships found customers wanted to test drive cars without the need to visit the dealership location. Most car dealers found solutions to these obstacles and were able to offer an online car buying to their customer base to ensure they didn’t lose sales at an alarming rate.
Back to the Original Question
The original question has to do with why it took so long for online car buying to be offered. The technology was right in front of car dealers but they avoided offering this process for a long time. Other than wanting to offer the personal touch to every car purchase, many dealers did not have the logistics in place to deliver cars all over their sales area to bring vehicles to the doorsteps of customers.
Now that dealerships have offered an online format for buying a car, there’s a good chance this process will continue to be part of car buying for many years. Automotive sales recovered quickly once the COVID-19 pandemic struck and automakers found they didn’t lose as much in revenue as they originally thought they would. While we can’t go backward and create online car sales for the past, the future of using this process is bright.
Dealerships and Customers Will Continue to Benefit
Customers who want to spend time at home and shop from their couch will likely continue to enjoy the benefits of online car buying. For dealerships, this means they won’t miss out on a sale from a customer that would rather stay at home during the sales process. With all parties benefiting from online sales, this process is sure to be part of car sales for the foreseeable future.