The future of car dealers was a prominent topic discussed at the Financial Times’ Future of Car Summit this year (2023). As the car industry embraces a more digital customer experience approach, the role of dealers is evolving.
For a long time, the prevailing belief in the car industry was that no one would buy a car online, and I have written about this extensively. Car industry insiders had a valid point: buying a car is a significant and critical decision, and many consumers would hesitate to make such a purchase online.
However, just before the pandemic, Tesla began accepting deposits for their cars online. The pandemic then had a profound impact on online shopping, as it became the primary option for consumers in 2020. As people grew accustomed to buying everything online, the question arose: why not cars?
Car companies have started redesigning their websites to offer an online shopping experience. However, they have been cautious about implementing Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal buttons for purchasing cars online. Perhaps the perception is that cars are still too expensive to be bought online.
To illustrate, let’s consider an extreme example from the high-end fashion brand Hermes. Hermes is a French luxury brand known for its exceptionally expensive products.
One of their most lavish offerings is a £101,110 Sofa Sellier 5-seater corner. Surprisingly, this sofa can be purchased online using Apple Pay or a credit card.
While this example may be at the extreme end of the spectrum, there are customers who are willing to make such online purchases. If a sofa can be bought through Apple Pay, why not a car? After all, one can visualise the size, appearance, and features of a car more easily than an unfamiliar sofa.
Considering this perspective, it may be worth exploring the incorporation of Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal in the car industry to gauge consumer reactions.