This spring, vehicle listings company TrueCar said it was working with digital retailing provider Roadster to allow consumers to move between TrueCar's website and Roadster's Express Storefront platform to complete a vehicle purchase.
At the time, CEO Mike Darrow told me TrueCar also was working on its own digital retailing product. Now we know: That product is TrueCar+. Darrow unveiled it this month with the company's third-quarter earnings results. It is being run in a limited pilot in Florida, with plans to gradually roll it out to more markets and states starting in the first quarter of 2022, Darrow told me last week.
TrueCar+ will let consumers select a vehicle, set up financing, choose vehicle protection products, finish the transaction and arrange delivery within TrueCar's platform.
There are a lot of different paths to digital retailing, as we've seen develop during the pandemic. Dealerships have added buying capabilities to their websites, through their own in-house tools or software built by third-party providers. Automakers are rolling out their own platforms.
Online marketplaces, like TrueCar, are another path, Darrow said, particularly as they add the ability to transact to their traditional lead-generation business. Consumers can shop multiple brands without having to jump between different websites, he said.
"If you're in the market for tennis shoes, you could go to the Nike website and the Adidas website and the New Balance website, or you can go to Amazon and you can look at all their products kind of presented there in a marketplace," Darrow told me. "That's one of the things consumers are telling us they really enjoy. They don't have to go to multiple dealers' sites to do this — although they will certainly visit dealers' sites as part of the process. They don't have to go to multiple OEM sites."
Dealers, he added, eventually will have to invest in having digital retailing capabilities in their stores because consumers will demand it. But he said adding purchase steps to a marketplace creates "opportunities for dealers to get competitive very quickly."