Somewhere in the U.S. (let’s say Cincinnati) someone’s looking to buy a car. They’re researching makes and models, dissecting their budget, and doing all the things that car-buyers do in order to feel empowered.
Deciding that a pre-owned vehicle best fits their current situation, they get online to search Used Cars for Sale. Even if/when they find that perfect vehicle, most will inevitably have to make their way to a dealership. And that’s where the fun(?) really begins.
Worst of the Worst
If I were to sit down and compile a list of activities faced by people every day, which hold little or no appeal, car-buying would rate very high on the list. With nearly a quarter-of-a-century behind the wheel, I’ve certainly sat in my fair share of dealerships, haggling over pricing, advocating for better financing rates and holding salespeople to their word.
And although I (for the most part) would consider myself satisfied with the result each time, it’s hard not to look back at some of that time as ‘lost’. The research, the driving from dealership to dealership, the endless conversations with salespeople and the waiting game? Considering that the end result was profit for them and debt for me, why are the buyers put through such a wringer?
If I decide I want to go buy a new television. I do the research, I go to the store, and I buy the television. Simple. Granted, there’s a significant price difference between electronics and automobiles, but the point remains. In an Amazon Prime kind of world, why does car buying remain such a cumbersome task?
We’re Looking at YOU, Amazon.
Because that’s the gold standard now, isn’t it? Amazon changed how we look at consumerism as a whole, making it easy to buy everything from Ramen Noodles to expensive electronics. Starting off as an online bookseller, the goal of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was simple: instead of trying to sell products to people, Amazon’s goal was to help people to buy the products that they wanted.
Sure, it sounds like a silver-tongued marketing ploy; but from the perspective of a consumer, it was revolutionary. No longer were we being sold to, we were given full access to products that (otherwise) may not be accessible, due either to geography or inventory availability.
The end result? We could now get almost everything that we wanted. The model would then expand further to include music, television and movie streaming, and downloads. Talk about one-stop shopping.
And the impact? It is now estimated that just shy of 50% of all American dollars spent online, comes from Amazon sales. In fact, Amazon’s up-sell to Amazon Prime (highlighted by free 2-Day shipping) has incentivized over two-thirds of American’s to sign on.
This is especially impactful around the holidays, where the thought of battling for parking, enduring unrelenting crowds, endless lines and frustrated retail personnel, is unappealing (to say the least).
But Can It Work For Car-Buying?
Ultimately, the answer is yes…but the condition, is that we must adapt how we view automotive consumerism, just as we did with every other kind.
Twenty years ago, the idea of having an automated grocery service was the stuff of sci-fi, set vaguely in the near future. The thought of trusting anyone to select your produce, or cuts of meat, seemed an exercise in reliability that most people wouldn’t dare attempt. And yet, the success of supermarket services like PeaPod, and subscription services like Graze, Bon Appetit and Turntable Kitchen speak volumes. As a society, we have evolved to value convenience above most things. With lives and schedules that can be unrelenting in terms of demand, any service that eliminates stress (of any kind) holds value.
So, if an automotive equivalent of these services were to arise it would require built-in assurances to take the place of test drives, and under-hood inspections. Surely, if there was such a service in existence, we would all know about it, right?
Concierge services like online.cars may not get the same loud and public fanfare as Omaha Steaks does, but that’s because nobody cares where you buy your steaks from. On the other hand, there is too much to be lost by dealerships if people were to begin buying their vehicles online. While some dealers have a strong online presence, most are still behind the curve.
But the value of online.cars comes from the fact that it embraces a similar philosophy to that of Amazon. Rather than following the traditional dealer mindset of wanting to sell you vehicles on their lot, online.cars wants to help you to buy the car that you want.
How Does online.cars Work?
Utilizing a nationwide network of dealers, online.cars is able to pull from a wider selection of vehicles than that is available to any individual dealership. And while this kind of extensive selection is what helps you to find the exact vehicle that you’re looking for, it’s how online.cars goes about it that seals the deal.
You just enter in the specifics of the vehicle that you’re looking for (make, model, year, trim, color) then you sit back and let online.cars do the work for you. No traversing dealer lots or withstanding high-pressure tactics. online.cars will find your vehicle, and offer it at $500 less than you’d find it at any dealership. They will also guarantee financing to all applicants, and deliver the vehicle anywhere in the continental U.S. free of charge.
If we’re expected to change our views on automotive consumerism, we need some kind of assurance. What about the fact that all online.cars vehicles come with a clean CarFAX vehicle history report? Or a Lifetime Mechanical Warranty? Or that they will help you exchange the vehicle if you’re not satisfied within 3-Days or 150 miles?
Is it a different way to buy cars? Of course. But isn’t it what we’ve always wanted?