Death by online. Will dealerships go the way of the dinosaur?
The car retail sector remains dependent on traditional dealerships, while the consumer route to those dealerships is becoming increasingly digitalised.
Unlike high street retailers, car dealers are weathering the shift from bricks and mortar better. This will remain until car makers stop depending on dealerships and sales are fulfilled completely online.
The views at our recent roundtable were mixed. One person commented it was “only a matter of time” before a car becomes a commodity purchase and car dealers as we know them ceases to exist.
Others were more optimistic. Car dealers in comparison to estate agents are more advanced in embracing digital as a tool. “We will take 100 images of a car, and an estate agent will take 6 images of a whole house!”, was one comment.
Changing models of car ownership may have an impact too. The British are more sentimental about the cars they drive and invest more emotion into the purchase in comparison to their European cousins. The used car market also provides opportunities for dealers to get more digital savvy.
Traditionally, consumers haven’t trusted the used car trade. Today, customers increasingly want data and proof of careful ownership before buying a used car. Digital, with access to ever increasing pools of connected data, is perfectly placed to deliver this.