Can you buy a car the same way you can purchase a drink out of a vending machine? If you’ve seen the Carvana vending machines, you certainly think so.
While you can’t simply put your dollar in the slot to get a car, the touchless, virtual experience of buying a used car through this system has grown exponentially in the past few years.
Answering the Important Question
While most automotive dealers needed to figure out how to offer a touchless car buying experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, Carvana was already doing this. The pandemic didn’t cause people to lose interest in buying vehicles, but the shut-down economy did cause a slowdown in car sales as many customers looked for the right place to go to buy a vehicle. While dealerships looked for how to offer a safe shopping experience, digital automotive retailers were reaping the benefits.
Purchases and Sales that a Super-Fast
The success of this digital retailer just might also be the chink in the armor that will cause many traditional dealers to recapture their part of the used car market. It’s been reported that this company can buy or sell a vehicle in the time it takes for a normal person to brush their teeth, which is intimidatingly fast, but they do have a fatal flaw.
Dealers are Better at Reconditioning
When you buy a used vehicle from a dealership, what do you expect? You expect to find a vehicle that’s in like-new condition, clean, and ready to go. You expect the dealership has performed all maintenance necessary for you to start from the mileage on the odometer and take things forward. You expect to have a vehicle that’s dependable for at least as long as the loan is, granted you have regular maintenance performed.
Until very recently, most dealerships could deliver on what you want in a used vehicle, but Carvana and other digital retailers could not. Most dealerships have their own service centers to recondition the vehicles that come through their doors and give them the shine and like-new feeling you’re looking for. While dealerships scrambled during the pandemic, now is the time for digital companies to do the same thing.
Do Digital Automotive Retailers have an Edge?
It was pretty easy to see during the shutdown that digital companies had the edge over brick-and-motor locations. Nearly every automotive dealer transformed aspects of their digital marketing into an eCommerce car-buying platform that would allow sales to take place online. This feature of car buying has continued, which might mean the dealers have the edge once again.
How Have Dealerships Regained the Lead?
Now that dealerships can offer online car buying experiences, they have what shoppers are looking for. Not only can you sit at home and shop for the next vehicle you’ll buy, but you can also connect with a salesperson at the dealership and receive answers from a person for the questions you need to ask. This
allows the human connection element to continue to be offered while an eCommerce platform can be used for the purchase of a vehicle.
Another Strong Difference
Car dealerships that have a brand name on the sign offer new vehicles for you to purchase. As of right now, we have not seen any traditional automakers turn to a digital dealership platform for their new models. This means you can’t buy a new car through Carvana, only pre-owned models. This gives another edge to the traditional dealers to offer you the variety of amazing choices that you want to enjoy when you’re ready to buy your next vehicle.
Build Engagement and Be a Better Dealer
If you’re running a car dealership and you’re reading this, the best way for you to get ahead of the digital automotive retailers is to build and improve your customer engagement levels. This means offering human interactions, even online, enhancing your reconditioning platform for quicker turnarounds, and offering enhanced test drives for your customers. Your test drives could be virtual or actual, and this is a service most digital retailers just can’t offer.
Dealerships Don’t Need to be Vending Machines
The large and impressive look of a Carvana vending machine is pretty cool, but once you get down to business, traditional car dealerships are the place to go to buy the right used car. Dealers need to highlight their benefits over digital automotive retailers, and they will soon regain the market share that was lost during the economic shutdown.