The 2020s will be defined by the age of digital retail. In the time of COVID-19, digital retail is more important than ever before, including in the auto industry. As the internet has taken over our lives, customers have increasingly headed to the internet as they search for their next vehicle.

The pandemic has only sped up this process for consumers. Not only has the future of auto lead generation changed, but auto shopping itself is changing, too. Some dealerships are hesitant to embrace this change, but that’s a mistake. Rather than view digital retail as the enemy, instead, view it as an extension of your showroom that helps you make that sale.

Now more than ever, clients (and potential clients) are doing as much of their shopping online as possible. So what does that mean for the automotive industry? It means your digital retail needs to be as top-of-the-line as the cars you are selling. If you want to expand your reach and retain your current clients, an excellent digital retail experience is the answer.

What is Digital Retail?

What is digital retailing? Digital retail allows your customer to perform as much of the car-buying process as possible online. It is about much more than slapping up a basic website with your inventory on it so your customers can shop for their new car online. No, it’s much more personalized and interactive than that.

Digital retail also allows you to reach a wider audience of potential customers. These days, customers already know what they want by the time they show up at your dealership. According to Autotrader, 88% of shoppers use the internet for vehicle shopping. That is why your website and your entire online experience need to be top-notch, just like your dealership itself.

At the end of the day, digital retail allows your customer to complete as much of the vehicle-buying process online as they want, at their convenience. It helps your customer make their purchase in the least stressful, easiest, and most enjoyable way possible.

This means customers are allowed to structure a deal online, including their payments, valuing their trade, reviewing and pricing add-ons, submitting a credit application, and even chatting with a dealer over text (or another method of communication.)

digital trends automotive

How Digital Retail Works for Car Dealers

Though most customers prefer to start their car-buying process online, oftentimes, they still want to come into the dealership to finalize the deal, see the vehicle in person, and sign the paperwork. For car dealers, it’s important that the digital retail experience transitions seamlessly to the in-person experience.

The online and in-person buying processes should mirror each other as much as possible. Nothing will frustrate a potential car buyer more than spending a ton of time moving their way through the sales funnel online, only to have to start all over again once they make it into the dealership. The digital retail process should build trust and transparency for the consumer.

digital retail works car dealers
digital retail benefits dealers

How Digital Retail Benefits Dealers

Digital retail not only benefits customers, but it benefits auto dealers, too. Though it may feel to car salesmen that they are losing out on some of the process, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it can actually play a huge role in helping car salesmen. Now, instead of a stranger, you have a whole bunch of information to work with when someone comes into your dealership after spending time on your website. This saves you time and provides you with plenty of buyer information well in advance.

This way, your website doesn’t replace your showroom or your salesmen. It simply makes the job easier on everyone!

Digital Retail in the Automotive Industry

Let’s be real: digital retail can be a challenge in the automotive industry. After all, a vehicle is a major purchase. It’s a much bigger decision than simply hitting “add to cart” on that $25 t-shirt you’ve been eyeing on Amazon.

However, if you use digital retail correctly, it gives you the opportunity to increase car sales, CSI scores and gross profits for your dealership. It also improves your relationship with your clients and makes them happier in the long run. Sounds good, right? So, how can you use digital retail to your advantage? Let’s talk about the three keys to digital retail in the automotive world: technology, personalization and connection.

digital retail automotive industry


You can’t give your customers an excellent digital retail experience without technology. TECOBI helps your dealership use text messaging to help sell more cars, faster. Texting allows your salesmen to answer questions from potential customers about the inventory they are viewing online, without having to come into the dealership, or even make a phone call. Technology might just be the game-changer that turns your dealership into the most successful one in town.


These days, personalization is used so frequently that customers have come to expect it. For example, many shopping websites have algorithms implemented to show customers what other products they might like to see based on their browsing history. Perhaps your site can remember vehicles previously viewed by the visitor and serve them up similar options in their price range they also might like. Allow your site’s users to narrow down their options based on a variety of factors, like their monthly budget, the size of vehicle they are looking for, and more.


It is integral that you not allow the digital retail process to eliminate the personal connection between you and your client. Car buying is all about building trust. A vehicle is a large purchase and customers need to have faith in who they are buying from. You can still use the internet to develop a meaningful, trusting relationship with your clients! Audiences inherently trust a good-looking website that contains all the information they are looking for. Plus, that information should be easy to find. The easiest to find of all should be direct contact information for your dealership.

Retail Digital Marketing with TECOBI

If you are ready to bring your dealership into 2021 and upgrade your digital retail experience, try working with us at TECOBI. Through our proprietary text and Facebook messaging technology, we give your leads a personal, easy shopping experience.

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