Last March, I helped my mom buy a vehicle totally online. Well, partially online. I did the Internet research and found a dealership saleswoman who seemed like she would not take advantage of my mom.
And doing even that bit of online research was a lot harder than I had expected. Salespeople wouldn't answer questions directly and kept pressuring us to come in for a test drive, and they put my email address on many more email lists than I would have liked.
The future is coming, faster than many dealers will be prepared for. Many of the dealers my mom and I contacted hadn’t adapted their hard-sell strategies from the past. They seemed afraid to give out prices, for competitive reasons probably, but it was a turnoff to someone accustomed to popping on to Amazon and having exactly what I need arrive at my door two days later.
In this issue of Shift, we look at many of the strategies forward-thinking dealers are using to ensure their businesses thrive in this changing world.
Is it as easy as switching to online-only sales? Probably not. How about moving to a no-haggle sales model? That could pose troubles, too.
Are subscriptions the solution? Well ... What about apps? They certainly play a role. How about artificial intelligence?
The answer isn't easy. Consumers are changing how they buy most products, but exactly how car buying will evolve is unclear. The dealers who will thrive will be the ones willing to try new things.