July 26, 2021

How digital retail can be a pain reliever for F&I process

In a discussion at the American Financial Services Association convention last month on how electric vehicles may modernize the automotive purchasing experience, Satyan Merchant brought up one element of traditional car-buying that remains a sore subject: the financing process.

“A lot of us saw that Super Bowl commercial,” said Merchant, senior vice president and automotive business leader at TransUnion. “I’m not going to name any names, but I think it portrayed what some of the view is on how painful the financing side can be.”

Online used auto retailer Vroom aired a 30-second ad likening the in-dealership experience to torture. Digital retailing is one method dealers have to combat that comparison, Merchant said.

Merchant said retailers can build trust by ensuring their digital processes are accurate and transparent. The process needs to identify the consumer and provide monthly payments and trade valuations that don’t change at a later stage. The ability to complete the process in a timely manner, with only a few clicks, also improves the customer experience.

Creating an efficient online process requires the right data and proper tools, he said, but those investments are important for dealers who wish to usher in a more positive financing experience.

“It’s the same goals of what a good auto dealer does, just moved online,” Merchant said.

Dealerships can leverage online tools to save customers time in the store and remove some of the pressure in the finance office. With many changes coming down the pipeline for auto retailers, providing a smooth experience online and in-store should be a priority.