5 Advantages of Automotive eCommerce

May 31, 2022

Team ACV




5 Advantages of Automotive eCommerce

ACV facts & figures

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Man browsing an automotive ecommerce website

Car buyers have gotten used to the speed, control, and flexibility of eCommerce businesses. They like popular eCommerce websites like Amazon and eBay, and look for similar shopping experiences. This is why shopping online is the future of the automotive industry. 

In 2021, 80% of consumers said they’d like to do at least part of their new vehicle purchase online. Further, 25% said they were willing to buy a car completely online. However, only 1 in 3 dealerships offers car shoppers a way to buy online.1

But why is online car shopping so important to customers, and how can car dealerships benefit from it? We’ll define automotive eCommerce, then jump into five advantages of this business model.  

What is Automotive eCommerce? 

Automotive eCommerce is essentially online shopping for cars. It’s when your dealership can sell a car 100% digitally. 

ECommerce is different from automotive digital retailing. Digital retailing is your online presence. It could include a virtual showroom, a financing calculator, and a tool to schedule a test drive. But it doesn’t necessarily include the means to purchase a new vehicle online. 

When we talk about your online presence, we don't mean social media. That's off-page marketing and can help point your customers to your eCommerce site. Think of social media as a big flashing arrow directing people to where the real automotive sales happen: Your website. 

Some auto manufacturers do offer online sales. Take Tesla for example. Tesla is a strong precedent for how automotive eCommerce sales may work in the future. When they released the Model 3, they sold it entirely online. Customers could either pick up their new car at their nearest Tesla dealership or request a delivery to their home. This business model allowed Tesla to sell more electric vehicles. Meanwhile, they could cut dealership stock and staffing costs. 

Your dealership may already be using an automotive eCommerce platform to source inventory. Do you buy used auction cars online? Have you ever used an online car auction? Then you’re familiar with automotive eCommerce!

So what are five things automotive eCommerce can help your dealership with? 

1. Go Beyond Geographical Boundaries

Imagine a world where your customers aren't constrained by their locations…where it’s just as simple for them to purchase from a car dealership 500 miles away as it is the next town over. Welcome to the world of digital eCommerce. 

Customers are becoming increasingly more comfortable purchasing vehicles online. A strong eCommerce platform can give your dealership a leg up above traditional dealerships. No longer are you tied to a city, county, or even state. It enables you to develop leads and sales in locations that may be harder to reach with a traditional dealership. 

Ultimately, the only barrier is your delivery service. Determine how far your dealership can realistically transport cars. Once you’ve decided on that, you can expand into new, previously untapped markets within your new (and much larger) radius. Your automotive eCommerce market potential is far larger than you’d expect. 

2. Increase Automation to Cut Costs

Use automotive eCommerce hand in hand with digital retailing to walk your customers through the entire buyer’s journey.

The buyer's journey has four steps:

  • Awareness: When consumers are searching for information
  • Consideration: When they’re considering specific products
  • Purchase: When they actually convert and buy
  • Loyalty: When they’re loyal and will make future purchases 

At physical dealerships, car dealers walk potential customers through the entire buyer’s journey. This costs dealerships a lot of time which equates to money.

Utilizing digital retailing takes most of the awareness and consideration steps out of car dealers' hands. Instead, it puts them in the customer’s ballpark. However, without automotive eCommerce, purchasing is still done in a physical dealership. 

Automating the entire buyer's journey is twofold. It means having both a strong digital retailing system and the option to buy online at the bottom of the funnel (eCommerce). This saves your dealership time and money. 

Having the purchase stage online also cuts inventory costs because you don’t have to stock every single car on the lot. Instead, you can order vehicles on demand from the manufacturer or an online car auction like ACV. 

3. Customize the Customer Experience

Let's talk about customization. People love it, as it’s a way to make them feel special and tailor experiences to their needs. With the rise of digital retailing, customers have become accustomed to customizing their options. The customization could be anything from language and currency to car color. 

Automotive eCommerce allows your dealership to meet customers where they are. This lets you give them a customized user experience. Potential buyers can sift through different vehicle brands, makes, and models and even customize their cars. Maybe your lot only carries certain trims in stock, but buyers can look at each trim type online. 

You can further customize by gathering information and providing digitally curated suggestions. This can help guide customers through their car buying experience without ever stepping foot on the lot. 

4. Put Customers in the Driver’s Seat

The biggest draw of automotive eCommerce is that it lets customers shop from anywhere. We don’t mean geographic reach here, we mean the couch. 

Consumers love the freedom to shop whenever they want from wherever they are. This could be midnight after a long day while waiting to pick kids up from school, or even on a lunch break. The freedom to shop whenever and wherever helps increase accessibility.

Automotive eCommerce also gives customers more control over their buying experience, which can lead to higher satisfaction, greater brand loyalty, and favorable dealer ratings. More control can also mean any number of things beyond when and where they shop.

  • Customers can take their time or go as fast as they want.
  • Customers can use external tools to research, compare, and calculate financing.
  • Customers have more freedom to ask for guidance from family or friends than if they were physically in the dealership. 
  • Customers can explore different car models in virtual showrooms without a salesperson looking over their shoulder. 

5. Position Your Dealership Ahead of Trends

The pandemic pushed automotive companies to adapt in order to maintain car sales. Dealerships are next in line to implement eCommerce solutions. 

The eCommerce industry isn’t just a result of the lockdowns. This trend is here to stay. Digital commerce is the future of the automotive industry. To remain competitive in the coming years, dealerships will have to adapt. 

Being successful in end-to-end car sales will take some creativity. Many consumers still feel more comfortable purchasing after a test drive or at least seeing a vehicle in person. However, the automotive industry has started to adopt virtual and augmented reality options.

Jeep uses a digital augmented reality program to let customers sit inside their vehicles and have a 360 view. Customers can zoom in and pan around both the interior and exterior. Creative solutions like this are the best way to stay ahead of the curve. So start brainstorming! 

The Future of the Auto eCommerce Industry

Automotive eCommerce is the future. It allows your dealership to reach new markets, cut costs, customize the customer experience, and give customers more control. Not to mention, it can also impact your bottom line and help you close more car sales. Right now is the best time to prioritize implementing an eCommerce strategy.

We look forward to helping your dealership stay competitive in this evolving automotive industry! Start by finding great inventory by registering for ACV Auctions.  


  1. Cox Automotive. “Transformation Toward eCommerce in Automotive Retailing” Retrieved May 2022 from https://www.coxautoinc.com/market-insights/transformation-toward-eCommerce-in-automotive-retailing/