Public car dealership groups increase online sales

Executives at Penske Automotive Group Inc. say the company has embraced multiple digital selling options, with an emphasis on an omnichannel experience. Omnichannel refers to the technology and processes aimed at providing a seamless shopping experience for consumers, whether they buy online, in-store, or both.

For Penske, this goal includes its own Preferred Buying Platform that allows consumers to purchase new, pre-owned and certified pre-owned vehicles online from Penske franchise dealerships, the buying platform online for its pre-owned CarShop stores co-developed with Cox Automobile and the various branded digital retail tools developed by automakers including BMW, Mini, Toyota and Lexus.

“Our omnichannel strategy focuses on the lifestyle of customers and continues to evolve with the changing landscape,” said CEO Roger Penske. “We are focused on providing flexible purchasing options that allow customers to proceed at their own pace with the purchase of their next vehicle or the maintenance of their existing vehicle.”

AutoNation Inc. did not specifically discuss digital vehicle sales during its first quarter earnings call, although CEO Mike Manley said overall customer traffic increased in the quarter, both digitally and in physical stores. He added that AutoNation continues to build a “compelling customer value proposition through the combination of our digital tools and physical assets.”

Lithia’s DeBoer said Driveway is aiming to generate $1 billion in additional revenue this year and more than 97% of the platform’s transactions in the first quarter were from customers who hadn’t done business with the group in 15 years. previous years.

Lithia has introduced a new vehicle shopping experience in Driveway, DeBoer told analysts.

“Expanded functionality for newbies includes the convenience of seeing all applicable incentives and discounts accounted for up front, as well as instant online funding approvals,” DeBoer said. “These new features have significantly improved our conversion rate and increased the volume of new vehicles sold.”

Dan Clara, Asbury’s senior vice president of operations, said customers who use Clicklane convert at nearly twice the rate of customers who submit traditional internet leads, although he noted that “we won’t see full potential until inventory levels normalize.”

Clicklane shoppers typically have higher credit scores — the average is over 700 — compared to traditional brick-and-mortar store customers, Clara said. He added that these customers gravitate to Asbury’s tool because of its transactional capabilities.

“That consumer doesn’t want to go through the traditional process and spend three or four hours in a store and take full advantage of the technology that we have there that makes it much more efficient to buy and acquire that inventory where it’s want, how they want and at the time of day that best benefits the customer,” Clara said.


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David A. Albanese