Driving Forward in a Digital Automotive Retailing World

4 min to read

The memory of selling vehicles pre-pandemic is fading faster with each passing day. Nearly gone are the ‘what brings you in today’ in-person conversations; now replaced with ‘scroll, view and click’ actions taking place on smartphones and laptops by customers located just about everywhere.

As an auto retailer trying to source and sell used and new cars in this new environment, perhaps you’re seeing the silver lining and reaping the benefits from the abrupt changes the pandemic forced upon consumers and the automotive retail industry. 

Here are the top five competitive advantages that car dealers should leverage for maximizing their digital retail growth.

Advantage #1: Your local market is now nearly boundless

With social distancing practices the new normal, more people than ever are now buying new and used cars online. This means your target market could be anywhere, especially if you provide home delivery services. 

Current research shows that between 25 and 35 percent of all new car sales in 2020 were closed online, while less than three percent of vehicles were purchased online before the pandemic.

“When a dealer is able to offer shipping estimates and home delivery right on their vehicle details web pages, their local market goes from a hundred-mile radius to a thousand. That’s the potential of door-to-door delivery,” shared Mike Trudeau, Executive Vice President of Business Development, Montway Auto Transport.

Advantage #2: You have an opportunity to innovate

If you’re an auto dealer, you’ve already heard the doom and gloom—complex supply chain issues, low car inventories, growing online disruptors, etc. While these issues represent real challenges, they also provide a tangible innovation opportunity.

“How people shop for new and used cars hasn’t just shifted, it’s been revolutionized,” said Trudeau. “For as long as I’ve been alive, the retail model has been basically the same. Now that consumers are demanding a new way of car shopping, companies are innovating like crazy.” 

Here’s a motivator for innovation: Used cars are selling for 45 percent more than last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Consumer Price Index for June 2021

Advantage #3: Reverse auto logistics is already in place 

Fewer consumers in physical storefronts mean fewer trade-ins and lower inventories of used cars to sell. In 2020, almost half of consumers in the U.S. said they planned to keep their current vehicle longer than they originally expected, according to Deloitte

With lack of new and used car inventories and consumer demand steady, if not high, retailers are finding new ways to source vehicles. Auctions are an obvious choice, but some dealers are now buying inventory directly from consumers. 

Reverse auto logistics is being used for trade-ins, returns and even vehicle acquisitions to help stabilize used car inventory. Dealers are buying from consumers and picking up vehicles right in their driveways.  

As the leader in single-unit vehicle moves, Montway is an ideal partner for reverse logistics. “We can pick up cars and trucks anywhere in all 50 states and have them delivered to the dealership, auction or anywhere they need to go,” Trudeau said. 

Advantage #4 Your website can do the heavy lifting

When looking to potentially purchase a vehicle online, many consumers will start their shopping journey by conducting research, customizing vehicle options and then finishing their purchase in a physical dealership. But now, many want a seamless car buying experience completely online, requiring dealerships to transport vehicles to consumer homes or other designated locations. 

“Dealers should think about how to integrate the online and in-person experiences to give consumers a consistent and personalized experience,” stated Trudeau. “For strictly online buyers, providing door-to-door shipping estimates, vehicle delivery and trade-in pickup are essential.” 

Advantage #5: You’ll be ready for the next disruption

Online retailers encroaching on your market? You’re working on it. Cancelation of new car shows? You saw it coming. What’s coming next? The end of the semiconductor chip shortage. 

The pandemic was unexpected; this pending inventory surge isn’t. All those practice fire drills that entailed shifting priorities, reallocated resources and pivoting strategic plans will serve dealers well in the future. Start mitigating unnecessary risks now. 

How else can you be prepared for just about anything? Get the right logistics partner in your corner and keep them there. Pick one with the resources, technology and innovative think-tank acumen to bring you the solutions and services you need when you need them. 

Efficiencies, opportunities and options abound for auto retailers

Consumers want a more efficient car buying process and dealerships are taking notice by updating their websites, renovating their showrooms, getting resourceful with inventory management and providing home delivery. 

“As a tech-forward company, Montway is always innovating to help dealerships get their units to rooftops and auctions faster, partnering with them to plan for the future,” stated Trudeau. “Last year, we launched a home delivery solution with lead generation and a managed service to speed innovation for our dealers. Dealerships will be able to expand their local markets, gain transit transparency, keep sales teams busy with leads and cut the time spent transporting units by a third.”  

Vehicle home delivery is an essential part of a successful digital auto retail program. Consumers are demanding it and they’ll get it from one retailer or another. With the right logistics partner on your side, you can offer your consumers a more pleasant and streamlined car shopping and buying experience that includes home delivery, trade-in pickups and even additional selling opportunities. 

Montway Auto Transport can help you identify opportunities for increased efficiencies, closing the gaps where needed to save you time, frustration and resources—all while pushing you closer to the front of the digital automotive pack. Learn more about Montway Auto Transport’s business solutions at Montway.com/logistics or call 888-997-8993.