Auto dealerships adapt as customers shift to omnichannel sales

The country’s state-owned dealership groups say they saw continued growth in digital sales in the third quarter, with some retailers selling thousands of vehicles through online sales platforms and others saying at least half of their deals involved a online activity.

Lithia Motors Inc. said its Driveway online sales platform retailed and wholesaled more than 10,300 vehicles in the quarter ended Sept. 30, generating more than $290 million in revenue, or nearly 4% of the total of the retailer’s quarterly revenue, CEO Bryan DeBoer said last month.

DeBoer said more than 30,700 vehicles have been sold at retail so far in 2022 using Lithia’s e-commerce tools. Many of these transactions did not include a test drive.

“I think there are more and more consumers who are more and more comfortable with the idea of ​​a vehicle being delivered to their doorstep and … not having to test drive a car,” he said. -he declares.

Clicklane, the digital sales tool developed by Asbury Automotive Group Inc., is expected to generate $1 billion in revenue in 2022 and $2.2 billion in 2023, Dan Clara, Asbury’s senior vice president of operations, said last month. CEO David Hult said he expects 45-50% of Asbury’s sales to be made using the Clicklane platform within two to three years.

That range, Hult said, is the “critical mass” at which Asbury would consider changing compensation, staffing and hours at physical stores.

More than 90% of Clicklane’s customers in the third quarter were new to Asbury, and the platform converted customers at more than twice the rate of a traditional internet lead, executives said. Asbury said it sold 6,817 vehicles through Clicklane in the third quarter, up 13% from 2021 and an all-time record quarter.

Group 1 Automotive Inc. also set an all-time record by selling 7,600 vehicles through its AcceleRide platform in the third quarter, COO Daryl Kenningham said last month. This equaled 11% of Group 1 retail sales in the United States, also a record high.

Nearly three out of four customers used AcceleRide for part of their transaction in September, Kenningham said. Group 1 is working to integrate AcceleRide with its dealership management and customer relationship management systems and credit tools, he said.

“We are continuing to test it in multiple dealerships and expect a full rollout in the coming months,” he said. “Our initial results are very positive, and we hope this will lead to faster and more transparent transactions for our customers.”

Penske Automotive Group Inc. uses a mix of digital channels across its operations, CEO Roger Penske said, including its Preferred Buying Program, automaker-branded digital programs and Penske’s proprietary UK site.

In the third quarter, “digital sales represented approximately 5% of our total unit sales,” Penske said last month. With Penske reporting that it retailed 109,969 new and used vehicles during the quarter, that equates to around 5,500 vehicles from digital sales.

Sonic Automotive Inc. CEO David Smith said his e-commerce platform was rolled out nationwide in June on EchoPark.com, the website for Sonic’s used-vehicle brand EchoPark.

In the third quarter, “omnichannel sales through our new e-commerce platform accounted for 31% of EchoPark’s unit sales volume, compared to 19% in the second quarter,” Smith said last month. “In addition, 7% of EchoPark’s volume in the quarter was sold end-to-end online as customers continued to use our improved omnichannel shopping experience, with out-of-market shoppers accounting for 60% of our sales. on line.”

Omnichannel refers to the technology and processes aimed at providing a seamless shopping experience for consumers, whether they buy online, in-store, or both.

To AutoNation Inc.CEO Mike Manley told analysts last month that more than 50% of AutoNation’s vehicle sales began on its digital channels in the quarter.

“We have built, and have continued to build, a compelling customer value proposition through the combination of our digital tools and physical assets,” Manley said. “It’s essential. It’s really the combination of those two things.”

Jack Walsworth, John Huetter and Gail Kachadourian Howe contributed to this report.

About the author