AutoNation Dealerships Move To Digital Car Buying

Illustration for article titled AutoNation Dealerships Move To Digital Car Buying

Most car buyers don't want to make a purchase the way their parents did, but auto sales has been slow to catch up to the digital generation who are accustomed to the point, click, and buy method for most products. AutoNation, the country's largest dealerships group, is rolling out a new way to buy cars online.


According to Automotive News, beginning on December 11 customers in Florida can use AutoNation's new SmartChoice Express to lock in pricing on the vehicle of their choice and use a credit card to secure that vehicle for pickup. AutoNation released a video describing the 5 step process.

1. Visit AutoNation's website and search from more than 70,000 new and used vehicles in stock. After entering some basic information, the Smart Choice price is revealed.

2. View or print a price certificate on the selected vehicle. The certificate can be sent to the customer's email or mobile device.

3. Reserve the vehicle with "just a few clicks" and make an appointment to come into the store. Customers can enter their credit card information via PayPal, and an authorization hold will be placed on the card. Once that is confirmed by the store, the vehicle will be taken out of inventory and placed in a special reservation area.

4. Visit the store within 48 hours to review paperwork and take a test drive. The vehicle and paperwork will be up front and ready to go.

5. Complete the transaction, and "in just minutes, you're behind the wheel and ready to drive."

Smart Choice Express is part of a 100 million dollar investment to increase AutoNation's dominance in the auto market. Given the controversy from the Edmunds' haggling ads, more dealerships are trying to move away from relying on 3rd party leads. AutoNation has made it very clear that they want their digital brand to stand on it's own and is recognizing that they need to transition their digital presence from informational to

"We see a frustrated consumer that currently has an online experience and an in-store experience that are very much disconnected," said AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson. "We see that as an opportunity."

In 2015 AutoNation plans on rolling out the Smart Choice Express to it's other dealerships nationwide. The dealership group will eventually integrate other features including: the ability to handle trade-ins, give financing quotes, arrange service appointments, pay bills online and get online updates on vehicle repairs.

In regards to the pricing, AutoNation says it is not quite a "one price" scenario, but rather a competitive market value price based on the local market. CEO Mike Jackson says it, "will be very close to a no-haggle pricing as you can get."


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I feel like I don't trust a website for as car dealer. Seems like the odds are that I'd show up and then "Oh, that price certificate is no good for what you thought, you need..." And then you end up fighting $2000 in additional charges when you felt you overpaid online in the first place.