Traditionally, the realm of auto commerce has been resistant to the digital world, but COVID-19 has led to serious acceleration. With consumers skipping out on showrooms, online traffic has seen quite the uptick.
J.D. Power reports that demand fell 13% from March 1st to the 19th, with major cities impacted by the virus - Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago - seeing numbers as high as 22%. Moody's Analytics suggests similar gloom, predicting a 20% market drop compared to 2019, and with effects decidedly lasting into 2021.
Despite these drops, digital sales platforms are treading water: Roadster says its traffic is already up by 6%.
Auto traders have been online for some time, but the appeal of visiting a showroom in person and speaking to a professional has long outweighed it in terms of benefits. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, only 15% of all transactions are done online - but they're anticipating that number doubling by 2025.
Some have been ahead of the curve: Tesla has been fully-online for some time, leveraging its "touchless delivery" option for consumers that only requires an app and signing some papers. Carvana, despite a harsh drop in shares, grew its number of sales by a whopping 89% from 2018 to 2019.
For those still reluctant to change? Some dealers are reporting the use of FaceTime to get customers back "in" the building, and the best of both worlds.