June 15, 2021

With digital sales, some customers still want direct help

As the pandemic progresses, U.S. consumers have further acclimated to digital retailing platforms.

Still, finance and insurance processes remain a hurdle to customers being able to finish a car deal online without assistance, according to a study digital retail provider Roadster conducted in conjunction with the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The study, which polled more than 1,000 consumers in March who had purchased a vehicle from a franchised dealership within the past 12 months, noted that 82 percent learned about protection products and service plans online. For those who transacted fully online, 94 percent indicated they learned about those plans online. And for those who purchased in-store, 42 percent self-educated through online channels.

Still, a large percentage of consumers who purchased online — even those who transacted 100 percent online — interacted with someone at the dealership remotely for assistance.

This reflects the experience in dealerships, Paige Goodwin, director of digital retailing at Group 1 Automotive Inc., said during a panel discussion I hosted for Roadster last week.

“The No. 1 area is around financing,” she said. “There’s always questions and things to work through. Not everyone has perfect credit.”

The ability to engage with consumers through a digital retailing process is essential for selling F&I products and securing vehicle sales. Dealerships that want to improve their digital process should consider all consumer credit situations and make sure employees are readily available for questions.