I spoke with Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of www.Edmunds.com, and he suggested some ways the Internet could improve future facilities and cut property costs:
n Keep vehicle inventory off-site at a cheaper property. With more people browsing dealer inventories online, dealers can arrange to have vehicles available when shoppers make appointments for test drives.
n Reduce the showroom. With sales presentations and most price negotiations taking place online, most customers already know what they want when they arrive at the dealership.
n Devote floor space to vehicle delivery. With customers researching purchases online, the walk-around presentation no longer is necessary. A better use of the salesperson's time would be explaining the features of the vehicle at the time of delivery. New vehicles are getting more complicated and have more high-tech features. The dealership could increase customer satisfaction by making sure the buyers understand how to operate their new vehicles.
The bottom line? With the growth of virtual showrooms, bricks-and-mortar dealerships should be shrinking.