Summary List Placement
At a time when you can buy almost anything online with a click, purchasing a car remains defiantly old-school.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, most customers who wanted to buy or lease a new vehicle had to visit a dealership, take a test drive, sit down with a salesperson to come to terms, and then spend hours with a finance professional to work out a car loan.
The process has earned the car-buying experience a bad name and compelled many customers, especially young ones, to seek an alternative.
When COVID-19 made in-person meetings a health hazard, many assumed that change was on the way. For some buyers, it arrived.
“I signed a few things and drove away”
In Oregon, Jeffrey Cecchini almost got into a new Honda CR-V crossover SUV without visiting the dealership. In fact, his dealer was all set to deliver the vehicle to Cecchini’s home when the 37-year-old commercial insurance salesman offered to come by in person. He didn’t have to stay long.
“I signed a few things and drove away,” Cecchini said. “I think it’s going to change the sales process forever.”
That sort of interaction was rare before this year.
But when the coronavirus pandemic hit at the beginning of the year, dealers had to scramble as state governments in the US shut down in-person retail operations. (For the most part, they kept their service departments going, as they were deemed essential services. Emergency workers and medical professionals, after all, need their vehicles to run.) That meant going online.
“Dealers were very slow to embrace digital retailing before COVID, but the pandemic forced an evolution that was ready from a technical standpoint even as it was being avoided from a philosophical standpoint,” said Karl Brauer, executive analyst with iSeeCars.com.
“When the digital retailing option suddenly became the only retailing option, dealers rapidly embraced it, and I think most of them were surprised by how well it worked,” Brauer said. “Getting dealers to utilize digital retailing starts with an awareness that, yes it’s possible and, yes it can be a better option in certain circumstances.”
Back to the future
There’s still some debate on how much the old ways might change, however.
“Our data shows that a majority of customers are still going to a dealership to buy a car,” said Jeremy Anspach, CEO of PureCars, an information and marketing-strategy resource for dealers.
That’s partly because these aren’t particularly risky places to visit. “Dealerships don’t have a high density of shoppers,” Anspach said. “And they’re taking the pandemic very seriously, following Centers for Disease Control guidelines, and spending big bucks cleaning, multiple times a day.”
The next few months could be an interesting test for just how much consumers could demand a new way to buy cars, while dealerships press for a return to a more-or-less “normal” approach, just with lots of face masks and hand sanitizer, and home deliveries of vehicles. (Test drives, long a reason for heading to the dealership, also came to customers’ driveways, with dealers dropping off sanitized vehicles.)
With the US market recovering more robustly …read more
Source:: Business Insider