Keeping your dealership relevant in the age of point-and-click touchless buying can be challenging, but dealers still have the upper hand in many aspects of the purchasing process. Here are some key tips to help you maximize your sales potential with the traditional dealership model in the digital world.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way people buy cars. The past two years have seen an enormous increase in the amount of car purchases completed online, a trend that is expected to continue. Before the pandemic, around 2% of car purchases were completed online. In 2020, that number jumped to almost 30%. According to Alan Haig, an automotive retail consultant, e-commerce will make up the majority of dealership sales by the end of this decade, and dealers who don’t adapt to this trend will not survive.

Companies like Carvana and Vroom were already well-positioned to take advantage of the move to online sales even before the pandemic. Proponents of the online sales model praise its speed and ease of use, but there are several key ways in which dealerships have an advantage over online car-buying companies which can help them claw back market share:

Carvana has been having problems with claims of vehicles delivered late or without complete paperwork. They promote themselves as a one-stop-shop, including touchless buying and pickup of your trade-in and touchless drop off of your new purchase, but over the past few years, they have received numerous complaints from customers who experience extreme shipping delays in getting their vehicles, vehicle titles, or license plates. They’ve also faced legal problems due to not complying with state-specific dealership laws. Traditional dealers, though facing the same industry-wide supply chain issues and shortages, can leverage soft skills and experience with face to face sales to solve these issues more quickly and effectively.

With online sales, the onus is on customers to dot the Is and cross the Ts. Help is available through phone and online support, but this doesn’t come close to having an experienced dealer in your corner to cover the bases when purchasing a new vehicle. A good dealer with showroom support staff will also provide a level of service that customers simply cannot obtain online. They can listen to the customer’s needs and assist with vehicle selection, actively working to help them find the right vehicle, not just presenting them with a list from which to choose.

Online Car Sales Are the FutureThere is nothing preventing dealerships from utilizing both online and in-person sales. Many dealers have already embraced online buying, and as more customers move toward custom orders over buying what’s available, the number of dealers utilizing e-commerce sales will continue to grow.

The bottom line is companies like Carvana don’t connect with their customers. Their model is built around convenience and speed, but is logistically difficult to maintain. Every part of the process is kept at arm’s reach. Dealers are built around a personalized customer experience and soft skills, and if they can provide the same benefits that Carvana does by leveraging online sales while maintaining high levels of customer service, then the sky’s the limit.

If you want to learn more about building your online presence to generate new leads, consider speaking to one of the digital marketing professionals at The Automotive Advertising Agency. Give us a call today at 512.610.7300 or contact us at

About the author

Michelle Camacho is the President of The Automotive Advertising Agency.