You can buy just about anything online in this modern era. While purchasing food, furniture, and even pet snacks online is commonplace, buying a car with a smartphone while binge-watching Netflix still isn’t the norm.
Companies such as Carvana sell cars completely online. Buyers research the car through their app and never have to leave the couch. Once purchased, the car can be delivered, or “bought” through a larger than life vending machine.
While this is good marketing, people are just not into it. According to a study of 2,000 car shoppers and 200 dealerships done by Urban Science, even young buyers show a preference for actual physical dealerships. The study also found that young millennials and generation Z shoppers will visit 3.8 dealerships on average, while Generation X visit 2.4 and Baby Boomers visit 2.1.
A few months ago Kelly, my wife, needed to buy a car for work. Both of us are millennials and we spent some time doing initial research online, then visiting dealerships all over New York. We probably visited 4 dealerships and test drove 3 cars. With a purchase that big, we want to be able to touch and see our potential car. We also felt more comfortable asking questions to someone in real life. Buying a car isn’t the same as buying groceries or clothes. I think dealerships are here to stay, for now.