Shady car salesmen’s infamous careers might be drawing to a close.
GM, the biggest car manufacturer in the United States, is urging dealerships to start pushing online sales with an online program called Shop-Click-Drive. Users are able to log in, and purchase, and coordinate delivery of selected cars through an online marketplace.
They are following in the footsteps of Tesla, who pioneered this kind of internet purchasing for their models a few years ago. The company is selling 25-40k models a year, with sales largely being generated through a combination of in-person galleries, and the company website.
Basically, the customer goes to take a peek at the cars in a gallery, and then is directed to the website to make a final purchase.
Moving to the online marketplace is a smart move for GM because the company is looking to make it as easy as possible for tech-savvy Millennials to make purchases. A recent study from ad agency DDB Worldwide found that 37% of these Millennials would ideally be able to make all purchases online.
But the direction makes for prickly politics: Tesla’s track record has been a bumpy ride with dealers’ associations, who have been taken the company to court. Up to this point, the company has won.
GM’s plans will allow the user to do pretty much everything they can do through online, as far as clerical work like making customizations to your purchase, getting estimates, etc.. But the actual test drives, financing, and performing trade-ins are handled by the local dealerships. GM currently boasts a network of 4,300 dealers nationwide, and for the moment, Shop-Click-Drive is an opt-in program for dealerships.
The whole idea of online car purchasing does raise some issues: for example, who makes the commission on a car purchased online? Will GM be able to avoid the legal hassles in the same way that Tesla has?
But, it does seem like GM has found a way to market and sell their products directly to the consumer, which is a huge development. What other companies or industries might follow suit?
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.