A well-reported byproduct of the coronavirus pandemic has been the abrupt and often necessary shift to digital tools by many dealerships.
Cox Automotive President Sandy Schwartz last week put some numbers to how substantial the influx of interest has been, at least for his company.
"When all of this started, we had about a thousand Autotrader dealers who had true digital tools that could do test drives, that could do walkarounds, and really get into the car and be able to see it," Schwartz said in Automotive News' Congress Conversations video series. "We quickly had requests and were able to outfit 10,000 dealers, our Autotrader customers, with more digital tools. And they're using them."
For dealerships, the use of digital tools has been integral amid the spread of COVID-19 as many showrooms were closed by state and local government orders. Customers still in the market have had to increasingly rely on digital information to weigh vehicle purchases.
Although heightened interest from many Cox customers came swiftly, the shift to digital in auto retail has been building for years, Schwartz noted. We've been narrating the continued rise of digital here, as well.
Now, it seems, the change has been cemented.
"People know now, you're never going back to the way [things] were," Schwartz said.
As the shift continues to unfold, there is still much to be learned. One question that remains: Which tools will emerge as the most useful?