Dealers, please just give shoppers what they want: The ability to buy a car online

By Renold Liu

If it’s one thing that a lockdown-riddled 2020 has taught us it’s that more and more people have now been more accepting of buying things online.

All one has to do is to look at the stock chart of Amazon, Shopify, or Lightspeed’s and you’ll see that these companies didn’t just recover, they’ve thrived and dominated. 

Amazon is +50%, Lightspeed is +128% and Shopify is a whopping +180% since the beginning of 2020.

It’s not a trend. It’s a shift.

COVID-19 lockdowns have forced the hand of all age groups to adopt online and now that they’ve done it, they’re not just noticing that it’s not hard it’s actually pretty convenient! 

In Oct of 2020, Google presented data from their 15th annual Think Auto event saying that: “40% of the Millennial population and 29% of the entire population would now consider buying their next vehicles online”

And I personally have seen online adoption in action. My 67-year-old mother now ordering groceries with her iPhone. My recently retired Father In Law just bought a subscription for toilet paper on amazon. 

Yes, these I admit, are anecdotal personal evidence that supports my view but they do align to Google’s sentiment that online shopping is being more and more adopted. 

Additionally, the fact that this group is considering online shopping means that this purchasing mechanism is now no longer considered an ‘early market’ solution, but has successfully (and with fervor) jumped the adoption chasm to be firmly implanted into the mainstream market. 

Online service IS better customer service.

Some Dealers feel that no online service can replace the in-person customer service that their salespeople can provide the customer. 

Contrary to what some Dealers may think, but there is more and more evidence that having their vehicles sold online IS producing better customer service vs the in-person method.

In an interview with Chris Sutton, J.D. Power vice president of automotive retail, CNBC writes: “Customers often strongly dislike the long process of sitting in the Dealerships’ finance and insurance office, filling out paperwork and negotiating the terms of the deal. They often don’t know what products they are being offered, such as extended warranties and service contracts. They also feel unprepared for negotiation.”

The article goes on to say that “One obvious way of delivering this information is online. E-commerce has permeated countless industries, but auto sales have been slow to move online.”

The reward is worth the work

Understandably, turning a traditional brick and mortar auto Dealership into a modern ‘brick and click” auto Dealership is a full commitment from the entire business including sales, finance, and marketing (to name a few).

Just like how Dealers had to adjust and create internet departments when more people provided online leads rather than call in, Dealers will need to adjust how their operations are structured when implementing digital retailing. 

That being said, the software itself is the easy part. 

Full disclosure, yes, Leadbox does have partnerships with digital retailing tools. The ease of implementing digital retailing into your Dealerships now IS dramatically more simple than it once was. 

Software vendors like MotoInsights, AutoFi, and VINN have features that are geared toward the legislation and details of Canadian auto Dealers and many of them can go live in under a month. 

Online car buying isn’t a fad, It’s here to stay. Some Dealers might not think it’s here yet, but remember, even the best and brightest have been wrong before:

Dealers, please just give shoppers what they want: The ability to buy a car online.


Digital Retailing