CARY, N.C. – The growth of digital retailing is broad-based in the auto business.
It runs the gamut from startups offering consumers peer-to-peer or direct-to-consumer online car-buying, to companies like Cox Automotive and CDK Global helping facilitate digital retailing at dealerships. And even certain pieces of the car-buying process are becoming more digitalized — for instance, consumers being able to get a price on their trade online.
And as digital retailing continues to grow, it may have an effect on the F&I office, says Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Alec Gutierrez.
“I would honestly say, within two or three years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a majority of dealers having at least a buy-it-now, shopping-cart, digital retailing solution integrated into their websites,” Gutierrez said during a conference call with the media on Friday.
“Now, with that said, just because there’s a button that says you can buy this thing online doesn’t mean you’re going to find a ton of consumers willing to make that leap. I would say you’re going to see a minority of the market (go that route),” he said.
Gutierrez estimates that the proportion of consumers “willing to go point to point and finalize the deal” would be 5 percent or lower.
However, he believes there will be “more and more willing to at least start the process, apply for credit, get a real deal baked and perhaps just not sign on the dotted line, but at least walk into the dealership fully informed on what they should expect to pay.”
Gutierrez has spotted improvements in F&I and extended warranty penetration among dealers his company works with that have implemented “more transparent pricing online, where they’re providing actual pricing to market to consumers.”
As such, the customer and dealer don’t spend 45 minutes or an hour going back and forth on the price of the car or the value of the trade, he said.
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