Car Buying

How Digital Retailing Is Changing The Way We Shop for Cars

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author photo by Lindsay Martell November 2017

Most of us are so used to online shopping we can't imagine not scrolling, clicking boxes and updating a virtual shopping cart when gearing up for back-to-school or stocking our pantries. Why should shopping for a car be any different?

Soon, car buying will look a lot like the kind of online buying and shopping you already do for almost everything else in life. Car buying is about to be a lot more clicks and choices and a lot less hassle. Plunking down dollars on a new car should be an efficient, engaging experience that doesn't start with a trip to the showroom. The general term for this brave new buying process is "digital retailing."

In short, digital retailing means shop, finance and buy in a completely virtual environment.

How It Works

Like a lot of purchases, the path to buying a car starts online. Shoppers check out dealership websites to find the best prices, available colors, options, etc. Folks want to do as much research as possible ahead of time so they don't have to spend as much time wandering around a dealership. Digital retailing is a digitally enabled sales process that allows consumers to complete nearly every step of the buying process online -- signing up and downloading the app, getting a loan, picking a car and collecting the vehicle at a dealership or at home (think Amazon Prime, but for cars.)

A series of web-based, interactive methods drives the process: With a payment tool, shoppers begin by inputting how much they want to spend. A finance feature instantly lets shoppers know if they prequalify for credit (or they can apply for a loan securely). Then, folks have the option to reserve their chosen vehicle and may even put down a deposit and secure a protection plan. Shoppers interested in trading in an old car have that option, too.

If a shopper decides to take a breather from the shopping experience, never fear: The choices can be saved, so anyone still on the fence about a certain make or model can always make changes later. It's a safe, seamless process that will make buying a car simpler and more user-friendly.

Raring to Go

One version of automotive online transacting is already in place with Cadillac's Book by Cadillac program -- a month-to-month car subscription service offered in the New York City area, where customers have access to the most luxurious Cadillac vehicles. It has the added benefit of an alternative ownership experience -- specifically, the ability to exchange cars up to 18 times per year. Care by Volvo is a similar example (for owners of the XC40), giving drivers the option of a fixed monthly payment in return for a new car every 24 months. However, the digital retailing component will eventually apply to every type of car shopper/buyer, regardless of ownership experience.

Shopping online has transformed the way we buy what we need. Digital retailing will revolutionize how we shop for the cars of our dreams.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
How Digital Retailing Is Changing The Way We Shop for Cars - Autotrader