Over the past decade, the growth of online retail has fundamentally re-written the rules around how North Americans buy and sell everything from clothing and appliances to groceries and medicine. Though the automotive industry has made it through this age of disruption relatively intact, experts suggest that it may only be a matter of time before e-commerce changes also changes how we shop for cars.
Sales via online marketplaces and digital classifieds are already making a huge difference in the used car industry, and thanks to new innovations, e-commerce for brand-new vehicles is just around the corner. Here are three ways that online shopping will change the way consumers buy cars in the future:
1. E-Commerce will Increase Competition
The automotive industry is already one of the most competitive in the world, with dozens of brands offering relatively similar products all struggling to attract the attention of a relatively static number of buyers. But as more consumers opt to purchase their vehicles online, things are only going to get more heated.
Buyers shopping online have access to a much wider range of vehicles than they would if they were restricted to shopping at the dealerships in their area. And because websites like Kijiji Autos make it easy for shoppers to compare and contrast the benefits of different vehicles on their phone or tablet, auto companies will need to make a compelling pitch for why their cars, trucks, and SUVs offer more features and a better driving experience.
2. More Buying will be Social
One of the most important emerging trends in e-commerce is the way social networks are changing the shopping journey. Because it is now possible for consumers to gain instant feedback from an extended network for friends, family, and colleagues via social media sites like Facebook, word-of-mouth is playing an expanded role in shaping purchasing behaviour.
Auto companies that want to capitalize on the power of social media will need to find ways to reach influencers and spread the news about their brand using more native advertising techniques. They will also need to be more pro-active about reaching social media users via online marketplaces.
3. Pricing will Become more Transparent
Finally, with more sales happening online, car companies need to become a lot more transparent about pricing. Consumers have long complained about the seemingly arbitrary fluctuations in car price based on the day of the week and the time of the year, and with dealerships playing a diminished role in the way cars are marketed and sold, bargaining on car prices could become a thing of the past. In a more digital future, automakers will be pushed to provide more standardized rates, and they will also need to provide a more fulsome breakdown of the pricing on their vehicles.
Automotive experts have long been arguing that the dealership model is due for disruption, and with the rise of online car shopping it is possible that the industry will see dramatic changes in the coming years. This is likely going to be good news for shoppers, as many of these changes will increase competition, drive down prices, and make the purchasing experience easier and more transparent for the consumer.