By 2019, 10 percent of vehicle purchases could be online. But to make digital retailing viable, dealers must learn how to sell the entire deal online, including F&I products.
That's according to Cox Automotive COO Mark O'Neil, a longtime advocate for online auto sales. O'Neil told Automotive News that dealers must have a holistic approach to presenting F&I products online, clearly laying out what they do and how the consumer can benefit from them.
"You need to make sure the customer understands what those products are and the value that they offer to them," O'Neil said. "That might not only be presenting material but also presenting reviews."
The most effective approach to educating consumers on F&I products might be through short videos, O'Neil said. After being approved for financing, customers could be asked a few basic questions about their driving habits and plans.
"Then you would present, based on those answers, what products seem to make the most sense and present little video vignettes," O'Neil said. "Maybe they're 45 seconds or a minute and a half, but probably not much longer. The customer has a chance to opt in."
The offerings should be presented in a way similar to online retailer Amazon's approach, O'Neil said. For example, a buyer of a Cadillac Escalade should be able to see F&I products with captions such as "62 percent of Escalade buyers bought this product."
"We would use techniques that customers are very comfortable with, and very used to in other retail shopping experiences online, to present F&I products," O'Neil said. "And the early cases where we've done that in the store with iPads have been very successful in terms of customers taking the time to watch the video and opt in as opposed to being sold."
How dealers present their F&I products, a huge source of revenue and profits, online in the near term could have a major impact on their long-term profitability, especially if O'Neil's prediction of 10 percent of vehicle purchases being digital comes to pass.