You can sense that automotive retail is on the brink of a new era. Words such as "digital" and "omnichannel" get bandied about a lot, but with good reason. The auto industry is seen as late to the game when it comes to online shopping and buying. People buy almost everything online now and can typically have it delivered to their homes within a day.
But vehicles are costly and complex, and most shoppers still want to kick the tires before they buy.
Young, tech-focused companies such as Carvana have sought to address this by offering return policies and posting thorough online vehicle listings. Franchised dealers also are toying with return policies and home delivery.
More shoppers are doing the bulk of their research online, and retailers are rightly trying to help them spend less time in dealerships.
All the while, availability of consumer data is creating a wealth of information to be used for marketing. The large amount of vehicle data means efficiency opportunities for retailers.
The changes leave automakers, dealers and technology vendors all trying to solve challenges presented in the digital retailing era. Our monthly retail technology page, debuting this week, seeks to capture what's happening in this rapidly developing sector. It's never been more important to anyone who deals in cars and trucks.