CarsDiva’s Blog

An Auto Industry Insider’s View…From A Woman’s Perspective

Archive for September, 2010

How Has the Internet Changed Car Shopping?

Posted by carsdiva on September 4, 2010

One of the obvious consequences of the evolution of the Internet is more knowledgeable customers. Did you know that nearly 90% of car shoppers use a search engine when shopping for a new vehicle? This, in turn, results in less room for negotiation when it comes to a deal, and the need for sales consultants to be at the top of their game. More and more consumers know what they want before they walk into the showroom- they’re educated on product and pricing and therefore the whole experience is more transparent. I was speaking with an acquaintance of mine the other day, and he mentioned that his biggest pet peeve when car shopping is walking into a dealership and knowing more information than the sales consultant.

From Traditional Media to Social Media

On the manufacturer/seller end, the Internet has helped to raise awareness of products and services through online advertising, shifted from the once popular auto magazines and newspapers. Moving even further, by using Web 2.0 tools, those that are on the cutting edge have grasped the concept and utilized these mechanisms to garner excitement, and build up the anticipation of new-to-the-market products well before they’re even available for purchase…or even live viewing. Case in point- Ford Motor Company’s FiestaMovement.com. Ford cleverly put together a grassroots social media campaign to create buzz around the introduction of their newest vehicle before it was brought to market—the Fiesta. And the result? (Drum roll, please)…. Over 9,000 reservations placed for vehicles that weren’t even in the dealerships yet! The numbers speak loudly. Need I say more?

For you consumers out there, the Internet is a powerful tool, available to everyone- so use it. You’ll find that you’re not restricted to simply finding product and pricing information, but also buying tips and even the appropriate lingo to use. Leverage your information wisely and you’ll get the best deal out there. All you need to know before you walk into a dealership is available online. Now, there’s nothing like kicking the tires and enthusiastically shaking your sales consultant’s hand, but that process will be that much more enjoyable if you do your research first.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind…

When shopping for a vehicle (or any high-ticket item for that matter) it’s important to consider first your budget, then your needs, and finally, what you want. Spending all of your savings on a hot-rod is great and all if you intend on living in your car, but most of us, like to spend our time elsewhere in addition to driving.

Product and price information are important, but there a couple of additional things to consider as well. Know the market value of your trade-in (if applicable.) How can you negotiate if you don’t know that information when you walk in the door? You’re an easy target- it’s like leading the blind down someone else’s intended path.

Also- you should be aware of your credit scores (at least on a general level). Most of us don’t have a big wad of cash to drop for a high-ticket item like an automobile, which in turn means that you’ll require some sort of financing. If you don’t already know, find out your credit standing to see what type of financing you’ll be eligible for… or if you can get financed for that matter. And then remember, you still want to be able to put the most money down possible. This will lower your payments and in the long run, save you money. Just like any other loan out there, you have interest to pay. Therefore, the quicker you can pay it off, the less interest will accrue. (Just a matter of basic economics here, guys.)

The Next Chapter

Times are tough (though slowly getting better), as we’ve seen many dealerships shut their doors over the last couple years. So who will survive? From the seller’s end, those who take this reality seriously and grasp the forward-thinking mentality will use the Internet to their advantage to differentiate themselves from their competitors. As a consumer, you want to get the most for your money, the sales person wants to make the most money out of the deal (like any other business); know your stuff and you can [hopefully] come to an agreement, somewhere in the middle. At very least, you’ll be better equipped to do so.

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