DONNA HARRIS

Internet could cut building costs

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing Automotive News
Most new-car buyers use the Internet to shop for vehicles, and more of the sales process takes place online. How should this affect bricks-and-mortar dealerships built today?

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. 

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