GM aims to increase online car sales

October 8, 2013

American consumers have come to expect that they can buy almost anything online.

American consumers have come to expect that they can buy almost anything online. One item that’s still traditionally purchased on-site, however, is automobiles. That may be about to change. 

General Motors plans to release a web-based application called Shop-Click-Drive to its entire dealer network sometime before the end of the calendar year, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The app will allow new-car buyers to access prices, trade-in values, financing applications and much more from their computers. Shoppers can even use the application to arrange test drives and deliveries of new vehicles.

Customers like Debbi Mahaffy, of Gladwin, Michigan, are who GM is aiming to cater to. Mahaffy told the news outlet that she doesn’t like having to take time off work to visit a dealership and research potential automobile purchases. She recently completed an entire car transaction online, buying her latest automobile from a dealership more than 100 miles away via online credit card payment processing, and having it delivered directly to her workplace.

“I never even walked into the dealership or met my salesperson,” Mahaffy told the news outlet. “I never even test-drove it. I wanted to do everything strictly by email.”

Migrating sales to online outlets
GM isn’t the first automobile manufacturer aiming to move their sales to the online realm. Tesla Motors sells its electric cars online rather through local dealerships, according to a report from ABC News. Diarmuid O’Connell, vice president of business development at the manufacturer, told the news outlet that his company benefits from selling its cars directly through the internet and online payment processors.

“We’re not in the business of tearing down the dealer model,” O’Connell told ABC News. “We simply believe that to successfully introduce this technology to the market, it needs to be done in a focused fashion, by us.”

GM isn’t requiring its dealers to participate in its online sales project, according to the Wall Street Journal, but approximately 100 individual locations have already selected to do so. Todd DeNooyer, a general manager at a dealership, said that while he initially was worried about the damage done to brick-and-mortar retail locations, he now realizes online credit card processing is an essential tool that can help to attract a new base of clients. 

“We’re trying to gear it to millennials who want to take it as far as they can online,” he told the news outlet. 

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