What to make of the future of car dealerships

Mark Conner

I recently came across an interesting WSJ article about the changing role of brick and mortar dealerships, and it made me think -- The traditional search for a new vehicle starts on the lot at the dealership, with free coffee, and a friendly salesperson guiding you through every aspect of a selected vehicle. But nowadays potential customers spend hours browsing on desktop or mobile devices before setting one foot in the showroom.

As shoppers increasingly take their car buying online, dealers should constantly refine and improve the digital experience. So do you think the traditional dealership model will eventually vanish in favor of online selling?

The traditional model, yes, of course, it's already vanquishing and I live in MAINE!!  The free coffee and friendly salesperson approach even sounds old school like the salesperson is wearing a plaid jacket and has a thick black mustache and waves his hands excitedly about the newest model that just arrived. Customers spend an average of 17 hours shopping online before hitting a car lot and visit less than 1.5 dealerships, they know more about these cars than some salespeople considering 55% of salespeople don't feel qualified and trained to do their job anyway. What a customer is going to want is FAST, TRANSPARENT, EASY, and FLEXIBLE service and guidance during the buying process ONLINE and IN STORE. The dealers who are adapting to this are having success already, those that fight it holding on the traditional way of doing things will go the way of Circuit City or other companies who went extinct. JMO :)

Elle Amadeus

I recently wrote how self driving cars will change the way dealers retail cars.

Because selling cars involves the local government (sales taxes) the motor vehicle agency of the state the dealer sells vehicles in (DMV fees) and lenders and lienholders, dealerships have been somewhat insulated from start disruption from online upstarts.

And as long as franchise laws exists, dealers will exist.

Mike Cartwright

Yes, I believe that the traditional model will vanish in time. Customers of today are more informed. And they know what they want. I agree that dealerships should improve their digital experiences. Not only to make it easier for buyers. But also to make it more human. Dealerships today should use technology in order to give a more personalized experience that buyers want.

Mark Rask

I think and hope that some part of the brick and mortar process remains

Penina Rothner

There have been so many articles recently about the future of car ownership, brick and mortar stores, and dealerships in general. Even with all of these predictions, it does seem that most experts agree that consumers aren't ready to actually complete their car purchase online- as said above, they conduct research online, but still want to interact with a human before signing on the dotted line. That being the case, I definitely agree with Mike, that dealerships need to improve their shoppers' online experience by utilizing technology that makes it even more personalized, seamless, and convenient. That way, your dealership can be one of the 1-2 that customers visit before buying. 

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