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Digital Retailing: The Key To Making Consumers Love Car Buying

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America’s love affair with the automobile is well documented and an important part of our culture. Who doesn’t remember the first time they drove, their first car, and the freedom that came with it? Unfortunately, not many Americans love BUYING a car. Our industry needs to address that challenge more aggressively. We want the purchase experience to be as good as the product. Car buying, at every dealership, in every state, should be simpler, personalized and more enjoyable. As Kenan Thompson says in the latest Autotrader ads, car buying should be easy.

At Cox Automotive, we know that can be a reality because we offer all the digital retailing tools to make it happen. Enabling personalized, connected shopping and buying experiences is what drives us every day.

Our goal is to help any dealership be ready for any consumer, any deal, from anywhere. We think of digital retailing as a spectrum, and most dealers today fall somewhere in the middle. There are auto retailers who still sell 100% traditionally and others moving toward an e-commerce, or 100% online, model. Our job at Cox Automotive is to equip auto retailers to meet their consumers’ shopping and buying needs – whatever they might be. We can help dealers make car buying easy and the process as great as the car.

Digital Tools Increase Consumer Satisfaction

Our industry is at the end of the first phase of its digital transformation. We now have a much better understanding of market demand for online car buying and how to meet the market’s needs today and into the future. That is done with a comprehensive suite of digital retailing tools that enables the personalization that consumers demand and delivers a great experience no matter what purchase path a consumer chooses.


81%

of consumers express a desire to do at least part of
their car purchase online

72%

consumer satisfaction with car buying


Our research shows that 81% of consumers desire to do at least part of their car purchase online, and consumer satisfaction with car buying has increased with digitization, reaching an all-time high of 72% in 2021, up from 60% in 2019.1 And this is the stat that matters most, as customer satisfaction is always the goal.

Digital Retailing Isn’t an All or Nothing Proposition

It’s not that any single digital retailing strategy is right or wrong. Instead, the tools a dealership selects can work together and enable their operation to scale for the future. While the automated, e-commerce path offers a great experience, it doesn’t complete the purchase path for consumers who require at least some sales support. And most consumers want some support whether it’s to value their trade-in, to qualify for financing, or to work through title and registration paperwork. Given the continued inventory shortage, just aligning on an exact vehicle and price can take some discussion, which some consumers might find easier to do while interacting with someone in real time.

Now that a full suite of flexible digital retailing tools is available, dealerships and retailers can serve all consumers – any path, anytime, anywhere. It is important to remember that, despite the headlines, most consumers aren’t looking to complete 100% of their auto purchase online. However, consumers expect most shopping experiences to be personalized, whether their purchase is as small as a cup of coffee or as big as a car. Dealerships are able to deliver on that expectation with advanced tools like AI to identify ready-to-buy consumers – backed by insights derived from thousands of transactions and traffic patterns from shopping platforms like Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. 

Benefits of Using Digital Retailing Solutions

By leveraging technology, retailers are providing convenient, flexible shopping and buying experiences that car buyers expect, enabling them to reach consumers whenever and wherever they want to buy – online, in-store and in-between. Most importantly, by leveraging the available technology, dealers can improve customer satisfaction with the car-buying experience. Better yet, the same technology that can grow customer satisfaction can grow dealership profitability.


5X

more likely to get a
lead submission

46.4%

higher close rate than from other
lead sources

24%

higher gross profit per deal


Our data shows that dealerships using Cox Automotive Digital Retailing solutions are five times more likely to get a lead submission from a given car shopper, experience a 46.4% higher close rate than from other lead sources, and enjoy 24% higher gross profit per deal.

Digital retailing is making car buying as good as car owning, and that’s a win-win for dealers and consumers.


Kevin Filan is vice president of marketing at Cox Automotive. Cox Automotive Digital Retailing consists of six core digital retailing solutions that can enable dealers to bring digital retailing to any part of the car buying journey. For more information on Cox Automotive Digital Retailing, visit: https://www.coxautoinc.com/digitalretailing/

1Cox Automotive Digitization of End to End Retail Study

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