Vehicle buyers are shopping online more than ever. They’re not only researching makes and models, they’re investigating features, looking at photos, taking virtual “walk throughs” of vehicles and reading reviews and testimonials. Increasingly, they’re even starting the buying process online. Among a small but growing percentage of Americans, purchase and payment are happening on web sites. One of the hardest parts for dealers that wish to put their sales process online is choosing the right platform to do it with.
What do you do when you’re the fourth largest auto dealership organization and the U.S. and you can’t find the right online retailing platform for your auto sales and service business? You introduce one that’s customized for the way your business works.
Group 1 Automotive, which is based in Houston, owns and operates 175 automotive dealerships, 230 franchises, and 48 collision centers in the U.S., UK and Brazil. After trying several retailing platforms and being disappointed in the poor fit with the business, Group 1 chose to build their own. The company recently launched AcceleRide, its online car-buying platform.
Using AcceleRide, customers can choose the options they’re looking for and browse for a new or used vehicle from Group 1’s inventory of 37,322 (as of today) cars, SUVs, trucks and crossovers. Once shoppers have chosen a vehicle, they can then customize it online with the features they want as well as warranties and financing options. The purchase can be completed via the web site, and the vehicle can either be delivered to the closest dealership lot or directly to the buyer’s home.
“During our extensive pilot program, we made a concerted effort to optimize the digital path-to-purchase to give customers more options for quick, simple, hassle-free ways to buy a vehicle with their desired preferences,” said Daryl Kenningham, Group 1’s president of U.S. operations. “Customers may also choose a variety of financing options, evaluate their trade-in, and opt for home delivery.”
In addition to putting warranties and financing into an online process, AcceleRide also integrates factory rebate and incentive offers, as well as the opportunity to complete all trade-in details online. Buyers can upload all their information digitally, which means they need never visit a dealership if they don’t wish to.
The new AcceleRide process is currently live at 79 Group 1 Automotive dealerships and will be available at all 116 Group 1 U.S. dealerships by the end of the summer, according to the company.