A few clicks won’t get a consumer a car — yet. But Cox Automotive has a vision for how its many entities will enable consumers to buy cars online from dealerships.
Today’s consumers have a specific buying experience in mind, one that allows them to buy with the click of a button from anywhere, anytime. It’s the Amazon experience. But buying a car is far more complicated than most purchases. Not many shoppers looking for headphones need financing or a quote on the old headphones they’re trading in.
So while Cox executives acknowledge that consumers expect an Amazon-like experience, they add that most auto retailers omit a critical step — “making” or negotiating the deal online — in their planned evolution to that online world. That’s a capability Cox now offers, the company says.
Multiple Cox Automotive companies are involved in some aspect of the retail experience. By linking those companies together online, Cox plans to play a role in each phase of a completely digital transaction.
“We are actively building all of the capabilities to host the documentation, to calculate the taxes and fees to the penny, to prepare the online deal structure in order to enable that transaction,” said Mike Burgiss, Cox Automotive’s vice president of digital retailing.
Some of the building blocks:
- Dealer.com, Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book offer consumers platforms to start researching vehicles and inventory online.
- MakeMyDeal — or the critical step Cox believes many auto retailers are missing — enables consumers to negotiate the deal, including price, online via a messaging platform with a dealership employee.
- Dealertrack provides the necessary digital retailing and lending tools on the dealership side of the transaction.
Cox currently is educating dealers on the digital components that already exist: starting and making the deal online. It plans to continue encouraging dealers to enable customers to make deals online before it eventually launches an online shopping cart.
Elgie Bright, chair of automotive marketing and management at Northwood University, said other companies are aiming for an online sales process, but “I get a sense that [Cox Automotive is] positioning [itself] to, if not be first, to be in that first group that successfully makes it happen.”