Online Car Buying

Review the many features of digital retailing and how to use them.

Share interactive deal sheets with inbound leads.


While showroom traffic has waned at dealerships around the country during the COVID-19 crisis, many of our dealer partners report that their online traffic, inbound leads and deal-making activity remain fairly strong. The digital-retailing capabilities of our Express Storefront platform enable you to respond to online customers by sharing a link to an interactive deal sheet with them. There, they can build their deal, view different purchasing scenarios and even browse other inventory — all from the safety and comfort of home.

To share a link to an interactive deal sheet with an inbound lead:

  1. Go to the in-store version of your Express Storefront.

  2. Find the vehicle referenced or curate a list of VINS for consideration.

  3. Click “Share.”

  4. Add an optional custom message and hit send.

The link will be emailed and/or texted to the customer, based on their preference.

Once the customer receives the message and clicks the link, they’ll be taken to the exact configuration you created for them. So, if you know how much money they want to put down, and whether they’re interested in leasing or financing, you can preselect these options on the customer’s behalf.

Make it easy for customers to schedule a test drive.


If you don’t already have “Schedule a Test Drive” as an option on your website, you can leverage this call-to-action (CTA) within your Express Store. This is an attractive option for customers who, because of COVID concerns, prefer to only come into your showroom during their designated appointment time, and for those who prefer to test drive their vehicle at home.

Scheduling a test drive through your Express Store also sets you up to share deal information with the customer beforehand. For example, if a customer hasn’t already configured their deal online prior to their test drive, you can send them options to make their car purchase as affordable as possible.

Provide customers with a firm offer on their trade-in vehicle.


Trade-in valuations have always been an important part of the purchase process. But in light of the current health crisis, it’s more important than ever to offer customers a firm trade-in offer 100% digitally.

There are many online trade valuation tools that can be integrated into your online commerce solution, including Express Trade our proprietary trade-in tool. Regardless of which you use, we recommend that you capture as many photos as possible of the trade-in vehicle, so you can evaluate it accurately, sight unseen.

If you’re using Express Trade, you can also consider integrating a standalone Express Trade landing page into your dealership website, where you can direct customers who are interested in strictly selling a vehicle during these challenging financial times.

Start the purchase process with an online credit app.


During these uncertain economic times, your customers may be exceptionally concerned about vehicle affordability. As such, you may want to start by directing them to a standalone online credit application that can provide them with information to help them shop with greater confidence.

Whether customers just want to get a sense of their credit score to determine their payment options, or they’re ready to finalize a deal, the credit application is an important and necessary step that they can securely complete online. Customers can easily submit all of their essential information, including uploading images of their driver’s license and insurance cards.

Solutions like RouteOne and DealerTrack both integrate with our Express Storefront to make it easy for you to check your customers’ credit and provide them with lending options.

Don’t forget about backend products.


Service and protection plans are a big part of any vehicle sale, but especially so now. With much of the transaction likely to occur online, it’s important to position brochures and videos for your plans prominently so customers can educate themselves about their options. The more aware they are of your service and protection plans, the more likely they are to add them to their online purchase.

That said, you don’t have to wait for the customer to self-select their plans. We recommend that you educate your BDC or internet team about your F&I products so they can walk customers through the benefits over the phone or via video conference.

This health crisis is making customers more risk-averse than ever. Given the current climate, they may be more tolerant of a small bump in monthly payment to protect their vehicle or add a prepaid maintenance package.

Finalize the deal with the customer 100% online.


To complete the purchase online, customers will review and accept the final deal sheet with numbers based on their approved credit. Backend tools are available for your sales team to make any necessary adjustments to the vehicle based on availability, pricing, applicable discounts and rebates.

It’s completely up to you to decide how much control you want to give your employees as it relates to final pricing. Within Dealer Admin, you can delegate roles and permissions, and assign deals to managers who can make price adjustments as needed.

Accept reservations and deposits.


Some customers may have need for a new car, but feel reluctant to purchase one during these uncertain financial times. You can give them peace of mind that the car they want will be waiting for them when they’re ready to buy it — and secure an upfront financial commitment from them — through our Reservations & Deposits feature. This enables them to reserve the vehicle of their choice for a time period that you determine by placing a deposit on it for an amount you specify.

To accept reservations and deposits, you must first set up a Stripe account. Then you’ll be able to specify the deposit amount and the length of time that you’ll hold the car for the customer. Once a customer reserves a car, the VIN will appear within your Express Store with a special “Reserved” badge.

If you don’t have a certain vehicle in stock, consider taking pre-orders using the “Build Your Own” feature of the Express Store.

Don’t forget to update your CTAs.


Now’s the time to audit your website and make sure your calls to action align with the services you’re currently able to offer your customers. If you’re able to offer remote test drives, you may consider adding this as a button on your website.

If you have online commerce capabilities, make it clear on your SRP and VDP pages that you offer the ability to buy online. “Buy From Home,” “Buy Online” or “Start Purchase Online” are good examples of CTAs that signal this capability.

For shoppers who aren’t quite ready to commit to buying a vehicle, we suggest providing other entry points within your online buying experience. CTAs such as “See Payment Options” or “Calculate Monthly Payment” are good alternatives for customers who are still exploring their options.

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