Sonic Automotive's One Sonic-One Experience pilot in Charlotte, N.C., is the latest effort to make car buying easier.
The public dealership group expects that having a single iPad-equipped employee help a customer select and buy a vehicle in 45 minutes will result in more sales and happier customers and turn its dealerships into preferred destinations. Sonic expects to complete the rollout of the program to all of its 101 stores in 2015 and 2016.
Sonic's no-haggle approach is just one of many initiatives that rely on emerging technology. The goal is to streamline sales processes at dealerships, reduce or eliminate the bits that car buyers hate and improve customers' buying experience so they are more likely to come back.
Technology companies have new products to address dealers' needs. Dealers want to buy products that meet those needs. And as the consumer electronics industry churns out new gadgets to be snapped up by an eager public, dealerships and their tech providers are scrambling to connect to the tablets, smartphones or whatever devices customers are using for auto-buying research.
This ever-accelerating pace of change is inevitable in retailing of all types, but autos carry the biggest stickers. Still, the basics of auto retailing will remain: building relationships, meeting the individual customer's needs and providing service after the sale.
With such a big variety of U.S. dealerships, from huge operations in big urban areas to the smallest outpost in a rural state, no single set of technology solutions will work for every store.
That means dealerships need to keep up-to-date on technology advances and local consumer tech preferences and sort through all the options as they evolve and change. Only then can a dealer choose the best solution for his or her unique business.