Many dealers are frustrated that digital retail auto sales – cutting edge so recently – have quickly shifted to standardized tools that don’t offer the personalized options and aids they and their prospective buyers once were promised.
The answer to reinvigorating personalized digital retail sales might come from Digital Deal, a new service from CarGurus. Dealers enrolled in the system can mix and match almost all the available elements to customize it for their specific needs. Tools include a full credit application, secure financing options, F&I product offerings, appointment settings and out-of-market delivery scheduling.
“It was a phenomenally successful product that we helped to pilot,” says Nick Boustead, director of sales-Taverna, whose luxury Miami-area dealership sells about 150 vehicles per month, half of those out of state.
“This product from CarGurus really helps us compete with those other online-only platforms,” Boustead tells Wards. “Very importantly, it allows car buyers to put deposits on cars without contacting anyone at a dealership desk. That’s very exciting for car buyers.”
Digital Deal also allows dealerships to offer a hybrid sales process that is extremely important to buyers of high-end luxury cars, he says.
“When you’re buying a 2-year-old Honda Civic that is still under factory warranty, you don’t really need to see it,” Boustead says. “But when you’re buying an older, slightly more complex car, you really need to see it. So we very much believe in the hybrid sales model. We have customers fly in, we have a big showroom, but they also don’t have to leave their couches if they don’t want to.”
CarGurus just completed a 12-month pilot program for Digital Deal. The $500 reservation deposits not only secure the car for the prospective buyer but ultimately lead to sales in 60% of cases.
“We think about digital retail auto sales with much more flexibility. Digital Deal allows the consumers and the dealers to choose their own journeys,” Brad Rosenfeld, CarGurus executive vice president, tells Wards. “This empowers consumers to go as far up the digital chain as they prefer.”
CarGurus designed the program to ensure leads and other consumer contact information don’t languish in cyberspace. The system quickly notifies dealers of interactions and can rapidly respond to questions, deposits and applications.
Beyond that, dealers can customize the online experience for their individual businesses. That results in less frustration for both seller and buyer. One example is the debt deal, says Rosenfeld.
“It’s not just one-size-fits-all. This is very much tailored to what the dealer and which lenders they offer,” he says, noting they currently have more than 40 captive and non-captive lenders in the service. “Consumers are getting those near penny-perfect deals. That smooths some of the friction and frustration points that arise when a consumer has worked (F&I online), walks into a dealership and finds their expectations don’t match what the dealer offers.”
CarGurus keeps the cost of the service confidential, noting many variables come into play. They point to increased sales, appointments and a 150% increase in customer satisfaction as benchmarks of its success.
“It’s customized for the rooftop,” says Rosenfeld. “That not only makes it efficient but results in a positive experience for both the consumer and the dealer.”