That’s according to comments that Cox Automotive chief operating officer Mark O’Neil (pictured above), shared on Tuesday at the Automotive Forum in New York.

O’Neil stressed that the industry is about a year away from completing vehicle transactions entirely online, but emphasized the advantages for those who adopt early.

“Click to buy is definitely where we want and need to go in automotive,” O’Neil said, “Success in retail can only be achieved by giving consumers options that enable the buying experience that they want.

“The beauty of digital retailing is that it is a win-win. Consumers are happier, and early studies show that digital retailing tools can help dealers turn inventory up to five days faster as compared to traditional sales.”

Of course, digital retail comes with hurdles. The one that most likely comes to mind first is dealer objection to putting finance and insurance (F&I) information online. However, 83% of consumers want to learn more about F&I before the store visit, according to a MakeMyDeal study.

 

A rollercoaster

Once the shopper is in the store, the visit can often be an “emotional rollercoaster that has a deep valley of negative emotions,” cited a Cox Automotive Emotional Connections Study from 2016.

“If an amusement park only had one ride and it was a rollercoaster that was mostly flat, not many people would choose to go there,” O’Neil said. “In this case, consumers are spending too much time in activities that are not a fun part of the car-buying process. We know that technology can make the buying process enjoyable and can improve the dealership’s effectiveness.”

He cites entities like Amazon, Domino’s, Rocket Mortgage and Zappos that have used technology to make a more efficient, transparent, customized and enjoyable buying process.

Cox Automotive argues that doing the same in automotive could bear similar results. Moving certain tasks to digital would allow consumers, during their dealership visits, to focus on areas that tend to foster positive responses.

Those being things like test-driving the car, meeting an informed salesperson and learning about the vehicle.

O’Neil’s comments come only one month before Jeff Bilbrey, President NetSol Technologies Americas delivers a keynote speech on How technology is transforming the US dealership experience at the IAFN conference at Hilton London Bridge on 23 May. www.internationalautofinance.net

 

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