When you’re looking at the big picture of car sales, Cox Automotive’s Juan Flores said, the question that many dealers, automakers and consumers have on their minds is this:
When will digital retailing happen?
“We know that there’s some manufacturers that are doing that really well, but it’s still the minority,” Flores told Auto Remarketing. “And I think that the move to KBB Instant Cash Offer positions us to be the centerpiece of the trade-in component for digital retailing.”
The Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer to which Flores refers is what many of you likely have known as Trade-In Marketplace, under the brand of fellow Cox Auto company Autotrader.
The Cox Automotive Media Group told reporters in late October that TIM was being converted into KBB Instant Cash Offer during the fourth quarter, bringing an entirely new experience for consumers and toolset for dealers along with the new name.
The transition is now officially complete.
“As digital retailing is being molded, KBB Instant Cash Offer is positioning itself to be the centerpiece of that,” Flores said, “so, if there’s anything that we’ve learned along the way in this transition, it’s that we’re headed in the right direction and we can’t get there soon enough.”
In a nutshell, the program allows consumers to either trade-in or sell their ride, without negotiation.
The consumer can visit either the KBB or Autotrader website, punch in the various details and info about his or her car and an Instant Cash Offer is generated.
That offer is based on current transaction data as well as supply-and-demand data.
The shopper then takes the car and the offer to a participating dealer, who inspects and verifies the information and condition. The consumer then has 72 hours to redeem the offer once that info is verified. The shopper can then use the funds toward buying another vehicle or just take a check.
(Note: If the consumer chooses to simply take the money for the car and not buy another, the check comes from the dealer, a Cox Automotive spokesperson explained. The check is backed by Autotrader, the spokesperson said, in case the dealer doesn't accept keeping the car. If the consumer wants to buy a car with the offer, he or she can choose from new, used or certified pre-owned.)
“Consumers are asking for this,” Flores said. “Consumers are asking for more discreet and less range. They’re asking for more specific and less vagueness. They’re asking for more autonomy and transparency. So, this meets the trend. This meets their ask.
“And it creates an opportunity for the dealership.”
So, what does that opportunity entail?
It’s the chance to not only “give the consumer the experience that they’re looking for” — one that includes trust, fairness and openness — but generate inventory for the store, as well, he said.
More on digital retail evolution
Flores said he’s not surprised that many products and services that had only been dealer-facing in the past are becoming consumer-facing.
He gives the examples of Carfax and Experian Automotive’s AutoCheck product in the vehicle history space, and Experian’s services to consumers in the credit score space. Their consumer-facing presence is to the point where you might see commercials advertising those services on day-to-day basis, he said.
“And then you see it with more progressive dealer groups, where they have a buy-it-now price or they have a real competitive price, and they’re showing context,” Flores said.
For instance, say a dealer has an asking price of $14,999, he said. Is that a high or a low price?
Third-party providers like KBB, Edmunds.com and TrueCar, Flores said, enable some additional context around that that price.
Though he acknowledges that he is “slightly biased” having worked in the trade-in space for some time, Flores said he’s seeing some growth in this arena.
“I think this Instant Cash Offer is the first step toward a much more transaction-ready number,” he said. “We’re no longer providing an estimate. It’s providing a transaction-ready number that can easily plug into the digital retailing transaction.”