I know what you’re thinking. “People are already buying cars online today on eBay and other places.” True. However, the real question is whether or not a lot of people will be buying cars online in 2015. It’s bound to happen. Will this be the year?
eCommerce has been big business for a decade, now. People love the convenience, pricing comparisons, and total information disclosure that is associated with buying online. There are plenty of drawbacks, of course, such as security and not being able to examine the product in person, which is why car selling has lagged behind other digital retail industries.
Still, it’s due. Automobile manufacturers and their dealers have the technology to give as complete of a virtual tour of vehicles as possible. The eCommerce tools are there to complete a transaction. The only thing left for the customer is the test drive and that can be done as the final piece of the online car buying puzzle, the last remnant of a day when it was necessary to spend hours at a dealership.
The comfort zone is expanding, particularly for new vehicles. It’s harder to imagine buying a used car without a test drive, but new cars tend to perform consistently and at high levels. With the ability to see reliability studies, consumer reviews, and every possible specification regarding a new vehicle, we’re now in a place where the industry is ready for more eCommerce.
Many companies are seeing this trend as well and are making adjustments to accommodate. Inventory deeplinking company LotLinx is one such entity. Their model takes car shoppers from third-party websites and brings them directly into the inventory of the dealership that has the vehicle of interest. This is great for consumers as they get to avoid the hassle of the lead generating/selling world in automotive that has become a nuisance to car buyers.
TrueCar is another company that is solving some of the car shopping challenges. Their model of generating a fair price up front between a consumer and a dealership has helped to eliminate the back and forth negotiations that many consumers do not enjoy.
It isn’t just new cars, either. One of our favorite new companies in the field is Pure Pursuit Automotive. People who are looking for very particular vehicles can spend hours, even days combing through the various listing sites trying to find a match. That’s only the start. Then, they have to work out the details, set up the transaction, arrange for transportation, and hope that the vehicle is everything they expect. Pure Pursuit acts as a concierge service for their clients, handling all of the details and overcoming roadblocks associated with buying high-end pre-owned vehicles around the country.
The industry is ready for it. The consumers are ready for it. Our prediction is that this is the year when online car buying hits the mainstream.