Why your dealership needs digital retail if you want to survive

Kaitlyn Coxon
October 13, 2023

What is Digital Retail?

If you’re anything like me, when you hear the term “digital retail,” you think of browsing a list of products on a website–right? Wrong. Digital retail is so much more. 

Digital retail is all about extending your current in-store sales process online so customers can move a purchase forward wherever they are. Guided website checkout for units, business texting, and finance-based shopping tools provide the customer full transparency and comfortability to purchase whenever and wherever they want. Capabilities like e-signatures, e-payments, and fast finance app submissions make it easy for your dealership to close deals faster.

Why is it key for survival?

By looking at similar industries, we can find valuable insight into what customers care about and what key players in our industry need to shift in order to survive.The current data is loud and clear: without digital retail, your business will not only fall behind your current competition, it will damage the connection you currently have with your customers. In fact, a recent auto-industry study revealed that: “88% of OEM executives expect that some dealer groups will not survive the upcoming disruptions related to [new ways of buying from a dealership].”1 So what does this mean for you? If you do not want to fall behind, lose current customers, and fail to gain new ones, digital retail must become part of your strategy.

Our world is continually moving towards more convenient purchasing. A S&P Global poll showed that: “60% of consumers surveyed expect their next purchase to be completed online and 70% of U.S. customers are willing to select a dealership further away because the retailer allowed for more online purchase/comparison options.”2

Not only are customers shifting towards online purchasing, their expectations of how easy it is are on the rise as well. As of last year, “73% of customers expected companies to understand their unique needs and expectations… and 88% percent of customers said the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.”3

As high as those numbers are, as society continues the shift to working from anywhere, they will only continue to grow. The expectation for flexible purchase experiences may only be at the surface right now, but ask yourself this: would you rather be the last to adapt, holding on by the skin of your teeth, or seize the opportunity to be a market leader, setting the bar higher for your competition?

Taking the in-person experience online

Let’s recap: digital retail is not just online shopping. Digital retail is extending a great in-person buying experience online. It’s something customers can use part or all of–many will do part of the process online and complete the rest in-person. The result? Dealers who make their sales process easier will get more leads and sell more.

Customers don’t walk into a dealership, hand you the money, and walk out. There is a guided experience that builds clarity and trust before they decide to purchase. Digital retail is just that. Easy for you and your team, digital retail is more than just elements of a website, it’s more than just e-commerce. Dealership tools–like business texting and electronic payments–are key elements too. These tools will transform your sales process to save time, eliminate fraud, and move a transaction forward, no matter where the customer is, on their phone, tablet, or computer. 

These features are designed to create a win-win situation: not only do you win as the dealer, reaching a broader audience and attaining higher conversion leads, the customer, now given a fully transparent and convenient checkout process, wins as well.  

Digital Retail is not just the future, it is now. Build relationships through conversation, build trust by showing the customer what they’re paying for, and build your sales as your enhanced experience guides customers to purchase whenever, wherever. 

What good looks like

So what does good look like with digital retail? There are a thousand different scenarios, but here’s one: 

  • A customer goes to your website, browses your inventory, and sees a unit they like.
  • They are able to do a soft credit pull and accurately estimate their payment.
  • They decide to move forward and hit the Buy Now button. 
  • This brings up a simple flow that guides them through entering their info and address, choosing cash or finance
  • They fill out a finance application, verify their identity, and submit a down payment. 
  • The dealership team gets financing submitted and approved and contacts the customer to schedule a pickup appointment.
  • Along the way, the customer texts a few questions back and forth with the dealership team
  • When ready, their salesperson sends the customer deal paperwork for esignature to their preferred method of communication.

Finally: when the customer arrives for pickup, it’s a short but positive visit, and the dealership requests and receives a Google review by text message once the customer has left. Now, the same sales and finance team that you have today is able to serve customers better, handle more deals per week, and generate more profit for the dealership.

Why not grow your business by offering a similar digital retail experience?

Want to learn more? 

If you’re interested in selling more and providing a better customer experience through digital retail, you might be interested in the Digital Retail and Customer Engagement platform by Transax.

It's easy to set up, works with your existing website, and includes an iPhone and Android app.

A good next step is to schedule a 20-minute demo and Q&A with one of our digital retail specialists HERE.


1Source: “The future of mobility is at our doorstep” McKinsey & Company, 2020.

2Source:  “Americans appear ready for the European car-ordering model, according to S&P Global Mobility”  S&P Global, 2023. 

3Source:  “Nearly 90% of Buyers Say Experience a Company Provides Matters as Much as Products or Services” Salesforce, 2022.