Nana-Sinkam of TrueCar also points out that buy-from-home programs are a rapidly growing part of what dealers are doing right now to lure in cautious would-be customers. He says that since the pandemic forced car sales online, consumers have realized that online car shopping is easier and more enjoyable, and dealers have reached the conclusion that it’s a more efficient way to sell more cars in less time.
TrueCar also has developed a Buy From Home program that allows consumers to handle all aspects of a car purchase without going to a dealership. About 30 percent of the network dealers are participating, with more expected to take part. Dealers with the Buy From Home option are identified by a special logo in car searches on the website.
As with the generous incentives, online sales are aimed at keeping customers from shopping other brands, says PureCars’ Donaldson.
“We’re seeing dealerships saying yes to more things now more than ever before,” says Jeremy Anspach, CEO of PureCars. “If a customer requests home delivery, the answer now is much more likely to be, ‘What’s your address?'”
There are also several ways to begin the buying process without leaving the comfort of home. The first stage is researching different models that fit your criteria and, potentially, scheduling a test-drive. (Many dealers are allowing customers to test-drive cars without a dealer present or are delivering test vehicles to customers’ homes.) Most dealer websites contain tools for researching vehicles, and many now include a way for customers to apply for financing online, too. Some dealers can mail paperwork that needs to be signed. The level of physical disengagement depends upon location—every state has different regulations for things like contract signatures and vehicle delivery.
“Just like in 2008 and 2009 when we went through the big recession, there is a lot of motivation out there by manufacturers and dealers to sell new and used vehicles,” says Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association. “If dealers can get a used car that’s depreciating off their lot, they’re very anxious to do it. The same thing is true with new cars.”