When I first joined the DrivingSales community, I posted about how the dealership model could become obsolete thanks to Amazon. Everyone pushed back saying that "Amazon won't sell cars", "Everyone wants to sell cars online, but they don't understand how hard it is", and "It's impossible to eliminate every point of friction online."
You're all right. Selling such a large asset online isn't perfect. But that wasn't the point.
Your dealership can still fail and it can still be Amazon's fault even if they never sell a single car.
Have you shopped on Amazon? It's awesome. You order something, it's cheaper than in most stores, and it's in your hands two days later. Add in their consistency and exceptional customer service and you've got a winning formula.
Point being: Amazon has completely changed consumer culture.
With a few keystrokes and a click, you can find exactly what you want at a price you're willing to pay. Retail giants tried to combat this with price matching, but Toys'R'Us still paid the price. Kindle opened the door into the tech space that eventually became Alexa; a device that tech giants like Apple and Google find themselves chasing. Amazon keeps pushing the bar and household names find themselves fighting to compete.
If dealerships are not ready to match this level of service, customers are going to find someone who will. Those resistant to change generally jump in arguing how Beepi and Vroom failed and Carvana reported losses last year. Well, good news...no one has figured out the formula yet. But let's stop acting like they won't.
The video above features a skit envisioning a car sale in the near-future. I think it's the most realistic option to online retailing. A customer starts a transaction online so once they show up on the lot, they have their trade appraised, conduct a test-drive, and they're done. It's not frictionless, but it's a lot more customer friendly than the current model.
It's time we start serving customers the way they want to be served. The current model of forcing them to do business our way has built the stigma of expecting a hassle at a dealership. Our friends over at DealerSuccess have a tool called VirtualDeal that is already bringing the bulk of the sales process online and their customers love it. Even better, the customers of their customers love it.
So...to summarize...why do customers hate giving up their information to get basic information? Because Amazon. Why do customers do so much research before they buy a product? Because Amazon. Why do customer reviews hold so much weight? Because Amazon.
They might not be selling cars, but they've certainly changed our culture. It's time we get ahead and figure out the formula for OUR industry before they do.