You typically don't hear of many potential car buyers traveling to dealerships during the winter months. After all, nobody wants to walk around in the freezing cold, and that's often required when shopping at a car lot. Furthermore, while winter isn't necessarily a bad time to purchase a vehicle (you can expect great deals towards the end of the year as dealerships look to improve their yearly sales), it's a better idea to buy in the later summer or early fall, as new inventory means discounts on aging models. There are a number of other factors that may dissuade you from purchasing a vehicle during the winter.
This results in declining sales for these dealerships, and that subsequently has an effect on the entire automotive industry. However, the growing online marketplace may help eliminate this preconception. In fact, writers over at Cleveland.com believe that the growing online car marketplace will help boost sales year-round. To learn more about their logic (and why you may soon be relying on an online car dealer) continue reading below...
Online sales are generally trending upwards, which shouldn't be much of a surprise. You can purchase practically anything on the web nowadays, and that's led to consumers spending $1.672 trillion online in 2015 (7.3-percent of global sales). While online car buying isn't as mainstream as purchasing movies or clothes, the industry is certainly growing. We can already see the rising trend in customer's actions, as consumers are only making 1.5 visits to dealerships before making a purchase (a steep downturn from previous years). It's growing so much, in fact, that some experts expect these online dealerships to buck the "don't buy a car during the winter" trend.
Consulting firm Frost and Sullivan expects 50- to 60-percent of sales leads to come through digital means next year, which will be a huge bump over the 15-percent from 2014. Eventually, that number is expected to grow to 80-percent, an unimaginable number only five years ago. This is positive news for those online-specific dealerships, as they've already beaten individual dealerships to the internet marketplace.
Still, the Frost and Sullivan study expects traditional dealerships to dedicate 20- to 30-percent of their future business space to technology. They'll certainly have some catching up to do, as many online car sellers already offer virtual showrooms and "socially-enhanced networks." These businesses will certainly try their best, however, as the study expects dealerships to invest $500 million to $5 billion into the cause.
There are clearly several positives for the consumer in this whole scheme. If customers are content on receiving their vehicle immediately, they can use the internet as a great source for information. The amount of online automotive information grows daily, and customers are now more prepared when they enter a dealership.
Furthermore, customers can now avoid the whole dealership experience entirely. Online car buying means you don't need to go through any of the hassles that often accompanies the traditional car-buying process. In fact, you don't even need to leave your couch to make the purchase!