In 2017 Walmart made a relatively silent but massive wave in the automotive industry by partnering with CarSaver, a digital automotive marketplace. With this partnership, they expanded their in-store and digital offerings to include car buying with all the ease of ordering your groceries online and picking them up at the store. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly how it works. Buyers can find new and used cars through the site or at a kiosk in-stores that match their criteria, select any custom features, then schedule an appointment to test-drive or pick up the vehicle at a local dealership. Much like Amazon vehicles and the general trend towards a more digital dealership, this underscores a fundamental change in the mindset of today’s car buyers.


Soon the days of price haggling and ‘let me speak to my manager’ sales ploys at dealerships will come to an end- because modern car-buyers are demanding it. Much like ordering their food through an app, or buying clothes on an online store, the consumers of 2019 want to know how much it’s going to cost upfront and without any human interaction. They crave clear pricing and a quick close process. 


Although Walmart claims to support local dealerships by sending them business, the truth is dealerships are paying for customers that used to just come directly to the dealership. Online car-buying services like this are forcing dealerships to set sale prices more openly and firmly than before, reducing the opportunities for competition among dealerships. As a dealership, this could seem like an insurmountable challenge. But by copying their tactics you can beat digital dealerships at their own game. 


In the interim period, you may be forced to participate in car buying referral programs but now is the time to develop your strategy for long-term success. Focus your efforts on creating your own digital marketplace with ultimate transparency. Invest your energy into the single department online retail giants can’t turn into website code: parts and service. 


What do you think, will the digital dealership trend continue or phase out? Leave a comment below!


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