Virtual may become reality for car dealers

Modern day consumers visiting car dealerships are now extremely well informed about cars and their specification. Most car manufacturer’s websites now enable you to build your own car online, allowing you to chose the engine size and type, body, specification and trim with a few clicks of the mouse. Just imagine, for a moment, going back in time and trying to explain to a car buyer from the 1970’s the wealth of information, tools and control available to their modern counterpart. You’d probably be burnt as a witch.

It will clearly only be only a short while before the process of choosing, specifying, buying and collecting a brand new car is only interrupted by taking it for test drive, everything else will be covered by dealing directly via the virtual world of the web.

The thought, for some buyers, of being able to negotiate online is probably very appealing, given that we all want a good deal and value for money but many of us find actually asking for it quite an embarrassing concept. Call it the reserved nature of the British but haggling over the price of anything is awkward for many, so being able to “haggle” online without having to sit and be closed by an experienced sales professional could make the dynamics of car sales really rather interesting.

Of course it could well be a double edged sword for the car dealer; on the one hand they could potentially have many more customers engaging with them but these same potential buyers will almost certainly become a lot more brazen when it comes to making a ‘silly’ offer, or being better placed to play one dealer off against another.

Inevitably, as the car trade continues its evolution – and clearly the web will play an ever more vital role on its future prosperity – the challenges facing the industry as a whole will be fascinating to say the very least.

But surely if dealers really do want to engage buyers and at the same time deliver a service which remains profitable, then these changes will need to be embraced and also adapted for the good of all interested parties.

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