ATLANTA – PureCars, a provider of digital marketing technology and services for automotive dealers, announced results of a recent dealer survey that sheds light on how their business has changed since the onset of the pandemic. From the tools they use to entice customers, how customers now transact, to the type of advertising they are leveraging, the pandemic has changed the dealership business model. 

PureCars commissioned an online survey during June and collected responses from nearly 200 dealers throughout the U.S. Following are key takeaways from dealers on a variety of topics: 

How Dealers Entice Online Transactions for Consumers:  

There are distinct differences in what dealers offered pre-pandemic compared with today to entice their customers to leverage online or digital retailing. 

  • Today, the majority of dealers say they are now offering services such as Online finance (87%); Contactless delivery (87%); Online service scheduling/pick-up (85%). 
  • Prior to the pandemic, most dealers said they were focused on offering services such as: Build your vehicle online (91%); Virtual walk around (83%); Lease/payment calculator (82%). 

Volume of Digital Retail Transactions Pre-Pandemic Versus Today:  

There is a noticeable trend of how many transactions took place partially and fully in the pre-pandemic era compared to today. 

  • Today, 56% of dealers say they’re completing partial deals online for slightly more than half their customers. Prior to the pandemic, the majority of dealers (60%) said they were completing only some of their deals online for less than half their customers. 
  • Today, the majority of dealers (59%) say they are completing fully digital retail transactions online for more than half of their customers. Prior to the pandemic, the majority of dealers (59%) said they weren’t processing fully digital retail transactions, or in very few instances. 

The Pandemic Altered How Dealers Advertise Their Vehicles

There are different forms of advertising dealers leverage today in order to promote their dealerships or offers. 

  • Today, 98% of dealers say they are now leveraging some form of streaming television (Hulu Live, YouTube TV).
  • Prior to the pandemic, 95% of dealers were leveraging traditional media (TV, radio, newspaper), as well as Search (94%), social (94%) and online video (93%). 

New Trends in How Customers Budget for Vehicles

Dealers reported an increase in customers budgeting based on monthly payment.

  • Dealers today say their customers are budgeting based on monthly payment up to more than half the time, whereas prior to the pandemic, they were budgeting based on monthly payment less than half the time. 
  • Dealers also report that today 86% of customers end up purchasing with a monthly payment plan; this figure is up from pre-pandemic times making shop by payment more critical than ever.

“We knew the pandemic would alter many of the ways in which dealers conduct their business; much of this was evident in the early days of the pandemic when dealers had to adapt quickly to meet the new demands of their customers by focusing on the experience and putting the customer first,” said Jeremy Anspach, CEO of PureCars. “Fast forward to more than a year later and we’re able to see just how much change has happened, and is still happening, to accommodate the customer online and offline; those who make it the easiest for the shopper are gaining market share. It is clear that there are several ways in which the dealership business model has been forever changed; shop by payment at the inception of the buying process is just one of the many positive changes to the overall experience.” 

About the author