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Automotive Experts Explain the Evolution of Online Car Buying

If you’ve been debating the merits of online car buying, then you’re not alone. We’re not just solely talking about consumers, either. Plenty of automotive experts, whether they be professors or dealership owners, have been weighing the pros and cons of this new and evolving car-buying route. If you’ve been considering opting for this new experience, then it may be worthwhile to see what these authorities have to say.

Below, we’ve gathered some notable quotes from individuals from around the industry. They may provide some insight into the entire endeavor, meaning you can recognize if the digital route is actually more beneficial. That way, if you’ve been debating, say, Oxmoor Toyota vs., you’ll know that the latter option is actually the superior choice…

Aaron Krane, a CEO of Drive Motors (a company that helps improve the buying experience for dealerships) recognized the evolving car industry. Customers were now seeking the most convenient car-buying endeavor possible, and that truly wasn’t possible when they were forced to visit a traditional dealership. Furthermore, he recognized that ditching the traditional route for a digital strategy could ultimately benefit the dealerships, as well (via Ryan Gerardi of

AK: Our dealership customers tell us that presently, at least 40% of their customers would prefer to buy their vehicles online, and this figure will only increase. A recent Accenture study reported that three out of four car buyers would prefer to complete the entire buying process online.

“Let your customers close and upsell themselves with online checkout, day or night, and you’ll get more sales, with more sale profit, while your store is closed.”

Meanwhile, dealership owner Mark Scarpelli told Rick Popely of the Chicago Tribune about all of the opportunities consumers now have as they’re looking to complete their purchase online. The majority of these prospective buyers can finalize the majority of their purchase from the comfort of their own couch. However, the dealer (who may be a bit biased) notes that there are several benefits of a traditional dealership that simply can’t translate to the digital route.

“We’re getting to the point where credit applications can be submitted online to a dealership, obviously a car can be picked out, the price can be talked about and somewhat negotiated either on the telephone, through email or a website. All those functions are evolving.

“We’re going with what the customer likes and dislikes. There’s a lot of people who say, ‘I’d love to be able to buy the car online, but I still want to negotiate’ or ‘I want to touch and feel that car, and I want to drive it.’ Some of those functions can never be replicated online.

Mathew Desmond, the head of an automotive consulting firm, echoed this sentiment. While he noted that there are simply too many hurdles for the digital route to complete overtake the traditional route right now, he did acknowledge that the additional buying options are certainly a positive for the consumer.

“I don’t believe there needs to be a replacement for dealers, but there could be more choices in addition to dealers or different types of experiences with dealers.

“There seems to be a symbiotic relationship where the manufacturer produces the product and the franchised dealer network sells and services it. What it revolves around is customer choice, and the industry needs to provide more choice to customers to meet or exceed their expectations.”

Finally, law professor Daniel Crane notes that previously-written laws meant that specific brands’ vehicles needed to be sold through affiliated dealerships. While these requirements may have made sense back in the day, evolving technology is making that logic a bit obselete.

“With changing technology both in terms of the cars and in which customers are used to buying more products online, now is a moment when the old business model isn’t making as much sense as it once did.”

“There are lots of different ways of doing distribution, and every seller has to figure the best way to get its product to market. Having more choice and flexibility is going to incentivize more companies to experiment to find the right pitch for their products. What you ordinarily want to let happen is a competitive process in the market to sort out what is the best distribution method.”

What do we think? The benefits of online car-buying are truly too good to ignore. Ultimately, you’ll find that all of the perceived benefits that accompany a traditional dealership also apply to online car buying. There are the obvious convenience factors, as consumers are able to complete the majority of their purchase from their own house. Plus, since these online car buyers are usually relying on a nationwide database, there’s a better chance that you’ll come across your ideal, picture-perfect ride.

Meanwhile, many consumers assume that since these online car sellers offer so many conveniences, that they surely won’t have the best prices on their respective cars. However, that’s proven to not be the case, either. Businesses like promise to find you the lowest possible price on your desired car, and they also offer free vehicle delivery. Plus, these individuals should find that its easy to secure the necessary financing, even if their credit isn’t in good shape. These are opportunities that aren’t necessarily available from a traditional dealership.

Finally, many of these online car sellers have seemingly eliminated any of the concerns that accompany this buying route. For instance, many consumers may worry that they won’t have the opportunity to view or test drive their targeted car before committing to a purchase. However, businesses like provide these buyers with plenty of protections and a reasonable return policy, meaning customers won’t be forced to tolerate a lackluster product.

As you can clearly see, there are simply too many benefits to ignore. Digital car buying is the way of the future. As a car buyer, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage immediately?