Where Convenience Meets Choice: The Power of Flexibility 

The online shopping landscape has changed. The era of flexible car buying options is here and dealerships must adapt to meet evolving consumer preferences.  

Across the internet, today’s online shopping experience allows consumers to effortlessly add groceries to their online carts and pick them up at the store or have them delivered. It’s all about choice and convenience, and increasingly they expect a similar flexible retailing experience when shopping for cars. 

As a first step, embracing an omnichannel strategy can help encourage consumers to rethink their car shopping journey. 

At Cox, we define omnichannel as not limiting the shopper to choosing an online or offline experience. A consumer can begin their deal online, take it offline, and even go back online again, moving freely between the two to complete their deal. 

According to the 2022 Cox Automotive Digitization of End-to-End Retail Study, 92% of shoppers say they will complete their next vehicle purchase entirely online or through a combination of online and in-store. 

We see trends toward omnichannel because consumers still want the choice to talk with a person at the dealership to learn some of the cars’ features, do a test drive, and understand their finance options. Regardless of where the purchase starts (online or in-store) or where a deal is completed, retailers need to make the process as efficient, streamlined and fluid as possible.  

Our products and solutions at Cox Automotive allow you to offer the flexibility car shoppers expect. Streamlining the online to offline experience will be key, and preparing your dealership should start today.  

Implementing Flexible Retailing Experiences 

Achieving an effective flexible retailing experience requires careful planning and strategic implementation. Here are some key strategies to consider: 

  1. Use digital and AI-powered tools that provide a single view of the customer, predict what they like based on their behaviors, and extend a personalized experience if they transition into the store.  
  1. Keep shoppers’ information safe and let them know you take their privacy seriously.  
  1. Make shoppers feel more confident by using digital tools in the store. This makes it easier to go over information they’ve already given online and make sure everything is correct. 
  1. Tell shoppers to review financing options on your website. They can pick extras and send in their financial details to get a good idea of the total cost, including fees and taxes.  

Source: Cox Automotive 2023 Digitization of Car Buying 

Ecommerce is an Essential Ingredient 

Looking at retail flexibility as a spectrum, shoppers range from wanting to do everything in-store to wanting to do everything online.  

True automotive ecommerce is a full end-to-end online experience from vehicle selection through to the purchase and even delivery (read this blog about where we think automotive ecommerce is today.) 

The combination of ecommerce—which offers true online checkout—and a flexible shopping experience has created a new model of retail that combines the best of both worlds. In the shift toward ecommerce, it is vital to adapt to online shoppers’ needs, and implementing a flexible retail strategy will increase your chances of success.  

Ecommerce, powered by technology, automation, and machine learning, allows a consumer to complete their transaction at their own pace and to provide the relevant information as needed, whether that’s within the next week or the next month. 

Dealers who are ready to implement ecommerce today are at the forefront of industry innovation, catering to changing preferences, creating a customer-centric shopping experience, businesses can unlock new potential in retail and gain a competitive edge. 

For dealerships who are looking to thrive by offering flexible shopping experiences, an omnichannel approach with the integration of true ecommerce is essential. By partnering with Cox Automotive, dealers can launch advanced functionality to elevate the car buying experience and stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving market.