Just over a month ago, Autotrader announced a revamp of the car-shopping site that, among other upgrades, would include online deal-making. That piece of the revamp would essentially allow consumers to start the buying process online through Autotrader and help transition them “from searching to buying when they are ready.”
That project took a step forward on Monday.
Cox Automotive announced a new Accelerate digital retail platform launching on the Autotrader and the Kelley Blue Book websites.
It will be first available in Las Vegas, where 24 dealers are now offering this digital retailing solution live on those websites.
The process begins in the vehicle detail pages of Autotrader.com and KBB.com, and dealers must be on the Autotrader or Kelley platforms to utilize.
As for how it works, once the shopper has chosen the vehicle he or she wants, Accelerate allows the consumer to calculate a monthly payment, get a trade-in value, secure financing, browse F&I products, accept the terms of a deal and reserve a vehicle — all starting from the vehicle details pages and all done online.
“Accelerate represents a significant milestone in Autotrader’s dramatic transformation story,” Autotrader general manager Jessica Stafford said in a news release.
“Adding Accelerate to the all-new Autotrader further distances the site from others in the industry when it comes to helping shoppers quickly and easily move from shopping to buying,” she said. “With this groundbreaking solution, we’re instilling trust and confidence in the transaction, leading to a better consumer experience, higher quality leads and actual car sales for dealers.”
In a phone interview, Stafford pointed out that 89 percent of consumers say they want to be able to start the process online. With Accelerate, they can complete as much of the process online as they want, she said.
“From a dealer’s standpoint, they’ll be side-by-side with that consumer throughout,” Stafford said. “When the consumer’s ready to push that over to the dealer, (they can) go back-and-forth and talk about the terms, so that when the shopper walks into the dealership, that experience is more enjoyable across the board — for the shopper and the dealer — and will close more qualified deals.”
In using the product, once deal terms have been set, the shopper can reserve the vehicle with a credit card deposit, then head to the store to do a test drive and sign the deal, Stafford said.
She said that for dealers who choose to offer it, there will eventually be the option for the consumer to choose to have the vehicle delivered, putting the entire process online. But Stafford says the company has found most consumers still want to go in, take a test drive and finish the final steps in person.
As far as why Las Vegas was chosen, Stafford said the company has found Vegas to be a strong incubator market for Cox Automotive, along with being of optimal size and geography. Plus, Vegas already had several dealers using the Cox Automotive digital retail solutions, she said.
Expansion across the U.S. will occur throughout the year.
“After years of frustration and demand for a change in the car-buying process, Accelerate offers dealers a way to sell to consumers how they want to buy,” said Mike Burgiss, vice president of digital retailing for Cox Automotive, in a news release.
“Consumers want to choose their own path to purchase, which means structuring their deal and monthly payment before visiting the dealership, and then visiting the store to confirm their numbers, test drive and complete the paperwork. Accelerate’s revolutionary end-to-end retailing solution delivers the shopping and buying experience nine out of 10 consumers want and the control and efficiency dealers need, making it faster and easier than ever for dealers to close sales.”