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April 26, 2022 56 mins
The Buzz 1: An Accenture report found that 53 percent of car buyers would consider buying a car online. (www.rd.com) The Buzz 2: Nearly 30% of U.S. new car sales in 2020 were completed online, compared to 2% of vehicles pre-pandemic. Online car retailer Carvana sold 244,111 cars in 2020, a 37% jump from 2019. (www.abcnews.go.com) The traditional in-person automotive purchasing experience has always been alluring, offering shoppers the opportunity to inhale the new car scent, examine the shiny power under the hood, literally kick the tires, ask questions of a human salesperson, and feel the road in a test drive. Indeed, this type of car buying has “liquified” even the coolest showroom visitor! Even as online car sales slowly gained traction in recent years, most buyers still preferred to judge this relatively high-tag item on a seen-it, test-drove-it, loved-it-in-person basis. The pandemic accelerated this shift, replacing the traditional bricks-and-mortar business model with an online version – click it, order it, pick it up, keep-or-return it – for which the automotive industry, for the most part, wasn’t ready. Happily, the industry is still proving its resilience, with year-over-year growth in new vehicle sales, evident once more across Asia, and even in Europe and the US. A modern, action-oriented approach, beyond just data collection and data management, is the best chance car dealers have of improving their understanding of new customer expectations, and even making in-person strengths transferable to online selling. The new approach got accelerated by new players in the EV market as they avoided traditional methods from the beginning and adjusted to a state-of-the-art customer experience. We’ll ask Guenter Lasser, Daniel Grimm and Christos Maglousidis what success strategies retailers are putting in place to win the hearts and minds of the digital online car buyers, on Today’s Automotive Retail: What Will It Look Like Tomorrow?
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