Buying a car from a dealer sucks, and it especially sucks right now given the low inventory and lack of deals. Some automakers are attempting to take the pain out of the process by introducing a “Shop From Home” model where you can supposedly buy your new car online. The reality, of course, is very different.
Nissan recently introduced a program called Nissan@Home with an ad that makes it seem like buying a new Nissan is super easy and hassle-free.
I was intrigued by how this would actually work so I went to Nissan’s website to try it out.
The website indicates that you can pick out your car, and go through the purchase process all online. I went to the next step and did a “Build And Price” for a 2021 Nissan Rogue SV AWD. One of the biggest challenges in this market is actually finding the car you want on the lot. So I selected the Inventory Search for the NYC market.
I saw that Route 17 Nissan had some cars in stock and they were labeled as a @HomeDealer which I assume indicates they are “participating” in Nissan’s Shop From Home program. The next step was to “Get Your Quote” and I selected Route 17 Nissan as the preferred store.
A few minutes later I got two emails that were your typical “internet department” messages with no real actual information, just an introduction to the dealer and encouragement to come in for a test drive. I also got a text message from Route 17 Nissan which resulted in the following conversation.
Despite having been labeled as an @HomeDealer, not only did Route 17 Nissan not provide delivery, they were not even willing to provide a price quote.
I get that this is a seller’s market and dealers can get away with even more nonsense than usual. I even attempted the same process in the Los Angeles market and got pretty much the same results. The Shop At Home program kicked my email to a local store that Nissan labeled as a “cooperating” dealer. I engaged in a text message conversation with the store, who eventually stopped responding once I requested an out-the-door price quote. Jalopnik’s bossman, Rory Carroll, gave the Shop At Home a try in his local market with similar results.
Even though Nissan’s ad promises a different experience, the interaction has been really no different than the hundreds of other interactions I have on a monthly basis with various dealers from other brands. Nissan @Home in its current application seems to be nothing more than another lead generator for dealerships where buyers have to go through the same old games.
I reached out to Nissan corporate to see if they would be willing to provide any more clarity as to how the Shop At Home is supposed to work. We will update this post if they respond.
(Update 11/29. Last week I sent some questions to Nissan and they responded
Nissan’s website indicates that the program is subject to dealer participation. How many of your dealers are participating?
a. Currently, more than 500 Nissan dealers participate in Nissan@Home in the U.S., with an additional 150 awaiting activation on the platform.
2. One of the biggest challenges right now is actually finding available inventory. Yet the build and price process doesn’t actually give the consumer any real data as to which cars are actually available within their market. Do they have to wait for the dealer to contact them?
a. A customer can submit a form to the dealer for additional information on certain vehicles not listed as a Buy@Home vehicle (see car at left below) or select a vehicle that the dealer has entered into the Buy@Home functionality (see vehicle on the right with the red tile that says “Buy@Home”.) Selecting the red tile at the right will allow a customer to price, finance and purchase that vehicle from home.
3. In the build configurator it also says “Dealer sets final price.” Also, I didn’t see any actual tool or calculator where the consumer can enter their zip code to get a complete cost with tax and fees. Nor was there the ability to submit a credit application and get a lease quote.
a. If the customer selects a vehicle that is listed without a red tile/Buy@Home, that inquiry goes to the dealership and a more traditional transaction begins.
4. At the conclusion of the Shop From Home menu it essentially just has the consumer input their contact info to the regional dealers and wait for a “No Hassle” response.
a. Please see above. The vehicle selected was not listed as Buy@Home.
5. So does the consumer still need to go back and forth with the dealership to determine the total price?
a. If a consumer selects a Buy@Home listed vehicle, that vehicle can be purchased and financed online completely.
6. How is “Shop From Home” different than other automaker’s websites where they too have consumers submit info to local dealers and engage in the usual conversations?
a. Under Nissan@Home, there is Shop@Home, Drive@Home, Buy@Home and Service@Home. Shop@Home is browsing, seeking additional information and contacting a dealer to negotiate further if desired. Vehicles listed as Buy@Home can be purchased online for the price that is listed. Dealers may choose not to enable all of their inventory for online purchase through Buy@Home due to various reasons, or the dealer has yet to price a vehicle which might be why the Buy@Home button does not show.
I found a different dealer in the NY market and went through the process of clicking the red button and it did provide a complete quote. Then it connected me to a dealer. We exchanged some emails and I wanted to confirm that the total price on the incoming car would be the same as the one quoted using the @Home website. The last message I got from the dealer was that “We cannot provide complete pricing because the vehicle is not yet in our inventory.”