Dealerships across the country are beginning to welcome car buyers back into their showrooms.
The in-person experience will look different, likely for a while: Tape marking 6-foot distances on the floor. Plexiglass shields between customers and employees. Appointment-only traffic or limits on the number of people who can be inside at one time.
Retailers I've spoken with over the past several weeks have been preparing to resume as much of a normal sales operation as possible right now, particularly those in states that had required showrooms to close to reduce transmission of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. The return of physical auto sales has some dealership leaders anticipating higher sales volumes and improved finances as in-person transactions complement solely digital ones.
Few I've talked to expect digital transactions going forward to shrink back to a marginal part of the business. Dealerships have accelerated investments in digital retailing tools, have tried home delivery in earnest for the first time and are likely to encounter at least a segment of the market that is still wary of going out in public.
The pandemic may be the catalyst that cements customers' preference for online car sales.
My 7-year-old already likes the idea. During lunch Monday, as we were talking about some businesses opening up, she remarked that if you buy a car online, it should be brought to your house and wiped down. She seemed intrigued when I told her some dealerships already do that.
Has the pandemic prompted your dealership to take an innovative approach to selling cars outside of a showroom? I want to hear how you've adapted to digital sales: [email protected].