Tuesday, 28 July 2020 21:57

How Digital Car Sales May Drive the Industry in Second Half of 2020

Written by Jason Unrau, CBT Automotive Network


Six trends have been identified in a Cars.com press release that indicate digital auto sales are going to play a significant role.

As the pandemic recovery effort continues to play out worldwide, the rapid move toward online auto sales is looking to be increasingly permanent and widespread.


“The current climate drove dealerships across the country to quickly adapt to meet the changing needs of American car buyers. It has been incredible to witness an industry as large and established as automotive respond with new technology and adopt new processes to ensure a safe and frictionless car-buying experience," said Cars.com Inc. President and CEO Alex Vetter. "As the pandemic continues into the second half of 2020, more people will turn to car ownership to safely get around while social distancing. And I believe we will see durable changes to car buying and selling that deliver an improved experience for all.”


Between information collected from both buyers and sellers since the pandemic erupted in the US, Cars.com offers six trends that show what auto retail may look like for the foreseeable future.


Digital Dealerships


As safety concerns persist in the U.S., more car shoppers are using digital means to perform the majority of their search. Dealer Inspire experienced an increase of 63% through the Online Shopper portal on its website compared to pre-pandemic sales, and as many as 71% of shoppers want some or all of their purchase completed online. 


At Home Deliveries


Between March and April, the percentage of car dealers offering at-home vehicle delivery rose from 45% to 67%. Those dealerships are fulfilling a need for their customers as three in 10 want at-home test drives and their newly-bought car delivered to their home. 


Value in AI


During the early economic shutdown in April and May, Cars.com noted an increase in customer engagement with AI-powered chatbots. Month-over-month increases of 23% and 38% were posted in those months respectively. It proves high-quality chatbots can hold customer interest until a live salesperson can get involved further in the sales funnel. 


A New Market for Sedans


While mistrust remains high in public transit and ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber, a fresh surge in sedan interest and purchases is occurring. Searches for sedans have jumped 14% in the second quarter, with New York City and Chicago leading the way at 41 and 24% respectively. The sedan market seems to be bolstered by approximately one in five consumers who previously did not own a car.

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