Could We Soon Be Buying Cars Online?

In 2018, you can buy just about anything you want online. From new clothing and the latest electronics to fresh groceries and different household products, it’s easier than ever to shop for the items you need and have them delivered directly to your home in a timely fashion.

But could the online shopping experience really expand to vehicles soon?

At the moment, there are already millions of Americans who are using the internet in some form or fashion when shopping for new cars, trucks, and SUVs. Some use it simply to browse around so they don’t have to give up an entire Saturday afternoon to walk around a car lot, while others use it to crunch numbers while comparing the prices of different makes and models. But regardless of how they are using it, it’s clear people are already accustomed to utilizing the internet during the car-buying experience.

According to a recent column on online car buying, Sophus3—a company that specializes in providing automotive companies with digital intelligence data—is reporting that the average person today only visits two auto dealerships before making a vehicle purchase. That is down dramatically from just a decade ago when most people made roughly six trips to a dealership before deciding on the vehicle they wanted.

Sophus3 also states that about 90 percent of people use the internet (mostly on mobile) to research vehicles before buying, which is also up dramatically from 10 years ago.

There are many pros and cons to taking this approach to vehicle shopping. On the one hand, using the internet to shop for vehicles provides you with all of the information you could ever want with regards to cars, trucks, and SUVs. You can check out the various prices for them, skim through the tech features that are available, and even watch videos that highlight the safety features of vehicles. It’s so easy to shop, and you can do it on your own schedule right from the convenience of your own couch.

On the other hand, shopping for cars online doesn’t allow people to get the hands-on experience that goes along with physically visiting a dealership. Many people like to feel the way a car drives and check out the interior before they commit to buying it. Sure, you can find out how roomy the interior is by looking at the measurements online, but until you actually climb behind the wheel of a car, you have no idea how you will feel when you’re driving it. That alone is the reason that many dealerships maintain a physical presence rather than trying to sell cars solely online. Additionally, being able to speak with a dealer and have him confirm your research findings is much more comforting when it comes to such a large investment.

But the truth is that we are inching closer to a world in which people don’t actually see and touch vehicles before they buy them. There are many car manufacturers and dealers that are currently creating technology that will allow them to sell more vehicles online. You will be able to haggle over prices on cars, negotiate a trade-in for your existing vehicle, set up financing, and even have your new car delivered right to your home if you prefer.

The good news for those who still enjoy buying their vehicles in person is that it doesn’t sound like car companies and dealers are going to devote all of their resources to selling vehicles online just yet.

A recent Cap Gemini survey suggested that more than 60 percent of people would miss the test drive experience if it suddenly went away. That means that you will still likely be able to buy cars at dealerships for the foreseeable future.

However, we can’t deny that it certainly seems like more and more people are turning to the internet to buy their vehicles. As the younger generation (those who have become accustomed to buying everything online) get older, it’s only a matter of time before a shift takes place and everyone get used to the idea of buying cars online.

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