Consumers Can Buy A Vehicle Online Easier Than Ever – What Does That Mean For Shops?

COVID-19 has made a modern trend much more popular: buying a vehicle online. The uptick in this trend has encouraged dealerships and online car brokers like Carvana to make buying a car online easier than ever.

More and more consumers start their vehicle purchases online. Some even buy vehicles sight unseen and have their vehicles delivered to them.

Car Dealerships Are Embracing Digital Retailing

digital car buying

In 2020, 84% of franchised dealers expected an increase in online car purchases in 2021. 80% of franchised dealers are working to make the online vehicle purchasing process easier for consumers. Some dealerships and online car brokers even offer home delivery services.

It’s safe to say that online vehicle purchases are here to stay. 2021 looks like it’s going to be the tipping point for purchasing vehicles online. What does this mean for your shop? Consumers are buying vehicles online (sometimes sight unseen). They may expect your shop to offer the same type of service.

Your Shop Should Keep Up With The Times

Dealerships are gearing up to accommodate more online sales in the near future. In fact, 74% of franchised dealers agree that if they don’t adopt digital retailing, they won’t survive in the long run. This can be true for shops, too.

So what can your shop do to accommodate the growing demand for online retailing? Consumers may start expecting more modern solutions from shops. How can your shop “go digital” to keep up with the ever-changing automotive landscape? We have a few suggestions:

1. Start Offering Online Appointments And A Live Chat Service

dealer chat

These days, very few people like to schedule appointments over the phone. Many consumers prefer to schedule appointments online without having to talk to anyone. They want to schedule an appointment in a matter of minutes. They can do this online in the same amount of time it would take to dig up a shop’s phone number, call the shop, and be put on hold.

As an added bonus, you can also offer a live chat feature on your website. This can come in quite useful if your customers have questions about:

  • Their warranty or insurance claims
  • A potential issue with their car
  • Repair estimates

A live chat feature on your website makes your shop much more accessible to customers. Your service writers and/or mechanics can use live chat to answer your customers’ questions ASAP. It’s so much easier than taking a message from a customer and then having them wait for someone to call them back with the information they need. Gone are the days of playing phone tag!

A big reason why consumers started buying cars online is because it’s quick and hassle free. They can complete the entire purchase under an hour. That’s a lot shorter and easier than sitting around at a car dealership for half a day or an entire day. If your shop offers that same kind of convenience to your customers, your business will grow in no time.

2. Start Offering Pick Up And Drop Off Service

drop off service

“Hands-off” car service is becoming more and more common these days. The way it works is:

  1. Your shop picks up the customer’s vehicle (and maybe drops off a loaner)
  2. Your shop brings the customer’s vehicle back to the shop and works on it
  3. Your shop drops off the customer’s vehicle when it’s done (and pick up the loaner, if there’s one)

You can read more about this service here. Customers like this service because it saves them time. They don’t have to visit your shop at all.

3. Start Offering Mobile Car Care

mobile-mechanic

Most repair or maintenance jobs need to be done at a shop. As for the jobs that can be done outside of the shop, you can start offering mobile car care. The way this works is:

  1. The customer orders a mobile car service from your shop (oil changes, multi-point inspections, etc.)
  2. Your shop sends a technician to wherever the customer’s vehicle is located, and the technician performs the service.

We’re starting to see companies pop up that exclusively offer this service. For example, Spiffy. A good way for your shop to retain your customers for basic car maintenance is to offer this service too.

4. Start Selling Parts Online

online parts

If your shop hasn’t started selling parts online yet, put it on your to-do list. What if your shop doesn’t have a parts department? You can still sell small maintenance parts online, like light bulbs, windshield wipers, and batteries. You can make a nice chunk of change by offering parts online. This is a good way to put your shop on the map as a one-stop shop for everything related to car service and maintenance.

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