New Apps Sweep Car-Buying into the Digital Age
Thanks to the wonders of technology, the traditional method of car-buying is becoming a thing of the past.
Ray Huffines has been in the car business his entire life and has seen his fair share of change.
"I worked during the summers when I got my driver's license and I (when) was in school I would go to my dad's dealership. I worked in the service department helping technicians. I worked in the parts department another summer and just learned the business that way," he said.
The change Huffines and other car dealers face now is how to appeal to a tech savvy customer base that is more knowledgeable than ever.
"Used to be people would visit a lot of dealerships, but now they don't. They do a lot of their research online. There's so much information that they can get and they come in very informed," Huffines told CBN News.
Consumers are now only going to a car dealership when they're ready to buy or go on a test drive. That means it's critical for dealers to have websites that are engaging and informative.
A recent study by Cars.com shows that 75 percent of consumers decide which dealership to purchase their car from based on digital research.
Huffines said one of the major changes he's made is to make sure his website works well for smartphones. That same Cars.com study found that four out of five shoppers use their smartphone to actually choose their vehicle.
Innovators see this as an opportunity to introduce new apps that will further revolutionize car buying and selling.
Last month, more than a dozen teams participated in Hackomotive, a three-day competition sponsored by Edmunds.com. It's aimed at re-imagining the future of car shopping.
Zipflip, a Web-based peer-to-peer marketplace for buying and selling used cars, won the $20,000 grand prize.
"You go to our website, put in the 17-digit identification number for your car and through a partnership with Edmunds.com we can show everything about your car and send you a sticker to place on your car that is sort of an updated version of the old "For Sale" sign that you'd find in a hardware store," Zipflip CEO Tim Kelly explained in an interview with CBN News.
"Somebody with a smartphone can send a code in and get everything about the car, the price you're asking, negotiate anonymously, and even pay electronically," he said.
Some other new apps that could be helpful in your car shopping are Carcode.me and CARmera.
Carcode.me is a tool that allows dealers to create a code for every vehicle on their lot. Once scanned, pictures, video, vehicle options and CarFax history are sent to the buyer's smartphone immediately.
CARmera is an image recognition app that identifies vehicles and calls up information on them with just a snap of a photo.
Huffines said that changing with the times and keeping up with the latest technology is important, but the service he and his employees show to each customer will be just as critical to keep them coming back.