Automotive, Industry Ideas, Insights

Is your dealership a procrastinator or an innovator?

By Motoinsight - Jun 11, 2020

“I know automotive digital retailing is the future, but I don’t see the value just yet.”

It’s the objection we hear the most often when discussing digital retail. Everyone knows it’s the future of the car dealership, but many dealerships still hesitate to commit fully until everyone else already has. And hey, we’re not here to criticize – sometimes, waiting makes sense. Remember all those people who rushed out and paid $10 thousand for the very first generation of flat-screen TVs? Not a great investment, in hindsight.

But where early adoption can be an expensive way to buy half-finished tech products in the consumer world, the business world is a very different place. What do you, a consumer, get when you buy the very first generation of some new technology? Usually, a very expensive paper weight (we’re looking at you, Palm Pilot). In the business world, however, your early investments get you a competitive edge.

Palm Pilot displaying the words What do you mean I'm obsolete?

What early adoption means for businesses

We’ve spoken before about all the different cautionary tales of digital versus analog – Netflix and Blockbuster, Amazon and basically everyone, etc. – so we’ll spare you the lecture. Suffice to say that we all know what happens when traditional retailers dismiss the digital retail trend. Many dealerships still procrastinate on digital, though.

Why procrastination is a problem

The problem with procrastination is that the industry is evolving at a rapid pace. Younger generations of consumers in particular (who are already less likely to own a car) aren’t compelled by the same sensibilities as their forebearers. Things like brand loyalty and retailer relationships don’t hold as much influence over young consumers as the perception of innovation and brand differentiation.

We've written a whole article on how to sell more cars to younger generations, which you can find here.

It pays to be early

Everyone benefits from a strong online presence – even the latecomers — but only the first dealers who perfect digital retailing will get added lift by differentiating themselves in the eyes of their customers. Consumers never remember who came in second; we care about Netflix, Google, and Amazon, not Hulu, Bing, and whoever Amazon’s competition is (was?).

Who are the winners and losers in modern retailing? apple kodak amazon sears spotify hmv netflix blockbuster logo

There's still time to be an early investor

Think of it like an investment in the stock market. Anyone can make money from a rising stock, but the people who truly profit are those who invested early. Automotive digital retail is still on the rise, which means there's still lots of time to get greater return on your investment than the dealerships who keep waiting.

Don't wait too long, though

That benefit is a limited-time offer, though: once digital retailing is truly the norm among dealerships, new adopters won’t get extra credit for having a great omni-channel experience. It will no longer be an added bonus or a unique selling feature, but a basic requirement of doing business.

Look at the other kinds of places you shop, like apparel or electronics stores. You're not impressed by their online shopping platforms anymore, because it's a fundamental expectation these days (you can learn more about what's shaping automotive consumer expectations here).


The point here is that while digital retailing can help any dealer, the early adopters have the most to gain. If you want to excel, it’s time to get digital retailing on your side and give your customers what they’ve been asking for all along. Soon, when your competition is just learning the basics of digital retail, you’ll already be a master — and a winner.

Ready to sell more cars? See how your dealership can thrive online today.

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