You might suppose that the Covid-19 pandemic has persuaded many motorists that a visit to the dealership isn’t strictly necessary. If books, television shows and groceries can be bought online, then why not something more elaborate, like a car?
But actually, online shopping for cars is a trend that’s been around since long before the pandemic – and it’ll probably be with us long afterwards, too. So what exactly is the appeal of the practice?
Avoiding the dealership
There are plenty of advantages to heading into a real-life dealership. You’ll be able to inspect the shiny new cars in person, and ask questions of the salespeople. But for many, the dealership experience is a source of dread. What if you’re pushed into the wrong decision? Shop online, and this worry virtually disappears – you’re fully in control of the situation, and you can assess your options more thoroughly. If you don’t like the way that a certain transaction is going, then walking away is as simple as closing a browser window.
When you make a trip to view a car in person, you have to take at least an hour or so out of your day. If you’re shopping for a particular brand of vehicle, you might have to make a trip that’s well out of your way. And, considering that a car is a major purchase, you’ll probably make multiple trips to multiple outlets as you do your research.
Shopping online isn’t like that. Your research can be undertaken in small, five-minute spells. You don’t have to respect the opening hours of the dealership. The availability of specialised GAP insurance, and other products, provides peace of mind that might not otherwise be available. And you don’t have to waste fuel driving from one dealership to the next!
One of the most interesting factors in determining whether a person is willing to buy a car online is their age. Younger people tend to spend more of their time online, but on average they visit more dealers than their older counterparts. Even if this behaviour changes over a lifespan, we can be reasonably sure that the traditional dealership isn’t going anywhere soon.
When you’re shopping in a traditional dealership, then you won’t have the benefit of a crowd of fellow shoppers offering you advice. Rather, you’re at the mercy of the sales team, who might not have your best interests at heart. By browsing review sites and forums, you can seek the opinions of others, and work out whether a deal really is worth shaking on, before you sign the dotted line.