Is Buying Cars Online a “Thing?”
At this year’s NADA, the conversation revolved around the concepts of the future. Dealers, vendors and speakers continually asked this question: what will be the next defining change or trend in the automotive retail industry? Two concepts always emerged: the place of e-commerce and ride-sharing. While a dealership’s role in ride-sharing is still mostly speculation, a dealership’s relationship with e-commerce is becoming more and more defined. Companies like Amazon have capitalized on the consumer’s desire to buy online, and the demand for similar opportunities in the automotive industry is driving dealers to enable e-commerce features on their websites. In fact, 86 percent of consumers would choose a dealership that offers buy online features.1
The e-Commerce Customer
If you had to guess who would be most likely to buy a car online, most would probably say educated, wealthy Millennials. Our research found that those most likely to buy online were under 40 years old, with a professional degree, making $50–$75,000 a year. However, the spread between different demographics was surprisingly small. Those 40-49 years old were only 4 percent less likely to buy online. In addition, the spread between those most likely to buy online by household income was less than 10 percent. Those least likely to buy online based on education were those who had some college but didn’t complete a degree. Not surprisingly, those over the age of 50 are the least likely to take advantage of buying cars online. Forty-one percent said they would buy online, as compared to over 50 percent for all other age groups. While age, income and education did have an impact on someone’s likelihood to buy online, many of the differences were small, highlighting the fact that in general, the majority of consumers are ready to buy cars online.
The Rubber Meets the Road
We know that consumers want it in theory, but how engaged are consumers with buy online features in reality? Since the pilots of CDK Connected Store, our e-commerce solution, have been installed, dealers have seen a significant increase (more than 300 percent) in visitors to the payment builder feature even though their website visitors remained relatively consistent. In our pilot, we also found that penny-perfect payments are extremely valuable to customers. If they’re spending the time building their payment online, it’s likely because they want to minimize their time in the dealership and avoid negotiations. When we introduced Merchandisable Payments, a tool that added e-commerce information like applicable incentives, lender rates and rules, and lease terms to every vehicle, visitors to Connected Store increased by 33 percent. If you were waiting to see how this whole e-commerce thing would play out, the results are in: buying cars online is better for dealers and consumers. Embrace the future. Learn more about Connected Store. 1 Root & Associates and CDK Global, Connected Store Research, 2016