DEALER Solutions, a Cox Automotive company, has taken a key step towards the ultimate goal of the sale of cars online with the introduction of a new mechanism for new and used car dealers which allows buyers to make a deposit payment against a car listed on a retailer’s own website.
A “Place Deposit” link, which is prominently displayed on each listing on the dealer’s site, allows online shoppers to secure a listed car by making a deposit via PayPal or via a credit card.
The feature is available to all dealers using Dealer Solutions’ latest modular website platform. Clients can simply access the content management system to turn on the feature in the backend of the platform – a task that should take only a few minutes.
The project leader at Dealer Solutions, Timothy Dlugosz, told GoAutoNews Premium: “We set out to allow customers to make a deposit on our dealers’ websites and reserve a car they like.
“We have seen online transactions gaining momentum in the United States, where more and more companies are moving pretty swiftly into taking deposits online and even transacting the purchase online.”
Mr Dlugosz said that digital automotive online payments were becoming more common in the US through providers like Carvana. He said Cox Automotive has its Accelerate product line which is built around digital retailing or selling cars online.
“So we were looking to bring that sort of functionality to Australia,” he said.
“It all started with a consumer survey we conducted in Australia about a year ago. We asked Australian consumers about their desire to perform transactions online. The results flagged to us that Australians are ready to start to at least conduct a part, or parts, of the purchase process online.
“One of the key aspects of that process that customers were very keen on was securing a vehicle through the internet. People wanted to put their hand up for a car so that someone else did not get it ahead of them.
“This was especially the case for used vehicles, demo vehicles or special offers where there is only one of that car available in those specs in Brisbane, for example, so ‘I had better jump on and get it because someone else might get in ahead of me’.”
Dealer Solutions said it found that 28 per cent of Australian car buyers between 18 and 64 years old would be willing to buy their next car online if they had the option.
“That was a pretty big number for us. We didn’t expect such a strong desire to conduct transactions this way when we started the survey,” Mr Dlugosz said.
“Of those willing to buy online, the opportunity to place a deposit to secure a vehicle was one of the most requested actions.
“There are roughly 3.4 million vehicles sold through dealerships each year. With 28 per cent of Australian consumers willing to buy a car online, there is an opportunity to assist car retailers with just under a million vehicle transactions per year.”
Mr Dlugosz said that using a trusted payment gateway like PayPal was to cater to buyers who said they preferred PayPal to paying online by credit card, although the feature of using the credit card was there for those without PayPal or those who feel comfortable with credit card payments.
“With 7.5 million active PayPal consumer accounts in Australia, we are confident car shoppers will find placing an online deposit for their next car convenient, flexible and most importantly secure.”
Once the payment is made, the system provides immediate confirmation that their car has been secured for them.
The “Place Deposit” feature is available to dealers using Dealer Solutions latest modular platform which was introduced in May last year. Many existing dealers have migrated across to the new platform and all new dealers clients start on the latest platform. Dealers using the old legacy web platform cannot access the deposit feature but those dealers can take a free upgrade at any time.
Mr Dlugosz said the deposit function was one of several features developed by Dealer Solutions for its website customers which releases upgrades monthly, and “we are working on digital retailing on an ongoing basis”.
“We have a valuations module which we released last year as well, in which dealers are able to offer valuations to their customers online.
“Our target is to provide the means to enable the customer to make the entire transaction online and theoretically have the car delivered to their door,” he said. “That is coming through as a desire from customers. Not everyone, right now, but there is certainly a strong proportion of buyers out there who are interested in making either the whole transaction or part of the transaction and we are looking to facilitate those activities online for the benefit of both dealers and customers.”
Dealer Solutions, which is Australia’s largest independent data aggregator, said the new online deposits for vehicles is currently is receiving a lot interest from dealers from gravel yards all the way up to the largest dealer groups and manufacturers.
By John Mellor