Ford Motor Co. recently announced a new service that lets customers shortcut the dealer experience. The new Ford online dealership is called “Ready Shop Go”. It allows the customer to select a vehicle, get pricing along with lease and financing options. It has been rolled out in several Midwest states already and will be nationwide by the end of 2018.
The customer can select a vehicle from the online dealership and even have the VIN number of their chosen vehicle while setting up the entire purchase process. The customer will have their payments and all the other particulars before they ever step foot in the dealership. They can also receive a trade value online. Then they stop by the dealership, sign their documents and drive away in their new car.
Sounds like a dream come true for those customers that don't like to negotiate. However, all of this happens with help from a local dealership. From the “Ready SHop Go” online dealership portal the customer will be able to choose from the inventory of local dealerships. Then they are directed to fill out a form to get a price from that local dealer. Ideally, they will get their price, work out details, run their credit and have everything they need to buy their car.
When I first heard about this online dealership from Ford I thought this is not going to be good for anyone except the automakers. But after further investigation, I realized that this is practically what our BDC's are doing now. We already give customer prices for new vehicles, we take credit applications and we work out payments if we must. Sure we would rather not do all these things, but it has come to that in most dealerships across the country.
Not Quite an Online Dealership
So don't get too worked up thinking that this is the end of the car salesperson. To the car sales professional, this is not much more than a lead generation tool for the dealers. We already have an online dealership at every dealer and it's called a website. The customer will still want more discount and they will still lie to us about the price they received from another dealer. Not to mention going round and round with customer over their trade-in value.
Ford is not the first to have an online dealership, but they are creating a lot of buzz about their service. You can see that Chevrolet has a portal to do practically the same thing at “Shop Click Drive”. Plus Toyota, Honda, Lexus and more to come if they aren't doing it already.
If you listen to a TrueCar commercial or visit their website you can pretty much do the same thing as the online dealer. Not to mention some of the other lead providers like Edmunds, Autotrader, and Cars.com to mention a few.
I am sure there will be many takers when it comes to purchasing their car at an online dealership. And on the bright side, they will be buying their car for the price we provide. They will come in take a look at their new car, sign the paperwork and go through a delivery process. Overall I don't see things changing much or at all when it comes buying a car or for the future of the car salesman. We still need car sales professionals because nothing can replace the personal touch we provide.
Almost every dealer in the world has a process for the customer that doesn't want to negotiate. Which also accommodates those customers that are in a hurry. It's called “Sticker is Quicker”.
Later, Fresh Up on the Lot