Online Car Sales Replace Dealership Visits

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In lieu of in-person visits to physical dealerships, online car sales take place digitally through websites during the global pandemic. With fears of infection looming over every social interaction, consumers look to minimize human to human contact every way they can. With websites offering a complete car shopping experience, they avoid the need to travel.

Many companies began offering online car shopping years ago to keep up with technological advancement. However, for most, the new option failed to eclipse the standard process. Now, several see their online car sales spike as people hole up at home to avoid potential spread.

One such buyer, Karen Murphy, spoke with CNN Business about her online car buying experience. She purchased a new crossover SUV from a dealership 65 miles away from her home. Then, the dealership delivered it directly to her driveway. “She’s in the garage. I named her Betty after my mom,” Murphy said.

The dealership that made the sale, South Oak Jeep Dodge Chrysler Ram, recently transitioned to offering online car sales. With a process increasingly more available, they arrange financing, delivery, and even trades.

Online Car Sales Way of the Future

While the use of websites to facilitate the entirety of the car buying transaction predates the quarantine, it grew considerably in the last weeks.

“If you currently have a dealership that’s been selling maybe 10% of its sales through an online system, maybe now it goes to a third,” said Jack Hollis, head of marketing Toyota in North America.

Most states imposed some form of social distancing orders, which closed businesses. Showrooms now sit quietly awaiting the end of the pandemic. However, as a result, consumers slowly discover the new method of car buying. Carvana, an online used car retailer, launched its service in 2012, which allows customers to view their selection of vehicles in 360 degrees.

Since, many other companies followed suit with entirely online car buying. The following year, GM unveiled their “Shop. Click. Drive.” experience. Auto dealers across the country opt in to list their inventory on the site. Customers buy and receive their vehicles via truck delivery straight to their home.

While the impact of quarantine shifts sales increasingly towards online purchases, many industry experts believe the move demonstrates a broader trend. Some call it the “Amazon effect,” after the massive tech company that offers online shopping for nearly every type of product. When quarantine ends, online car sales and dealer car transport are likely to continue growing.

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