Consumers now expect the convenience and time savings that come with transacting digitally.
Similarly, said Nick Gorton, chief innovation officer at Edmunds, dealers expect that their technology vendors will partner with them to provide an online and in-store experience that satisfies customers' expectations.
Some of those vendors — vehicle listings companies — are adding digital retailing features to help shoppers buy a vehicle via the Internet, sending dealerships more robust leads from shoppers browsing stores' online inventory listings. Executives of the major vehicle listings companies and analysts who cover the space told me for a story in this issue that it's a natural evolution at a time when auto retail more broadly is adopting e-commerce capabilities.
I spoke with Gorton in early 2020, before the pandemic made digital retailing a necessity for dealerships. He said then that consumer expectations about buying a vehicle were shifting from researching to transacting online.
Since then, Edmunds was acquired by CarMax, the nation's largest used-vehicle retailer, in a deal valued at $404 million. The companies have jointly developed a tool that can provide instant appraisals and cash offers for trade-ins.