According to Reuters, the pent-up demand for new car sales from 2021 will make for a nice rebound in 2022. The average transaction price for new vehicles may even hit record levels.
As car sales rebound and consumers do more of their shopping online, it’s vital to stay informed about the industry’s future, from must-haves in a sales tech stack to potential demand fluctuations. Here are some key auto sales trends expected in 2022 and how your car dealership can jump on them with the right digital sales and marketing solutions.
The impact of COVID-19 on the automotive industry
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the automotive industry hard. From empty roads in the first few weeks of shutdowns, to plant closures, to global supply chain issues, the automotive industry has ridden a rollercoaster of highs and lows. However, a general increase in demand and car sales innovations signal hope for 2022, two years into the pandemic.
According to a McKinsey & Company survey, consumers’ intent to purchase a new car in quarter four of 2021 is close to where it was at pre-COVID-19 levels. Intent to buy a new car is up 7% over September of 2020, and intent to buy a used car is up 1% compared to the same time. With the economy and global outlook improving going into 2022, people are assessing their finances and considering when the right time is to buy a new or used car.
While the demand for car sales begins to return, customers are searching for a refreshed experience when shopping. The human-to-human connection is still as important as ever, especially following the shutdowns and social distancing protocols in the early days of the pandemic. The hybrid solution — a digital showroom — combines the convenience of an online retail experience with the human connection many still crave and prefer when making large purchases.
Auto sales trends in 2022
1. Increased importance of digital showrooms and online shopping
While 59% of global consumers are interested in buying cars entirely online, the human connection remains vital to the car buying process for many, even in a digital dealership setting. Digital dealerships, an innovative solution to consumers’ interest in contactless shopping, allow the customer to take their car buying experience online and contact a sales representative virtually when ready to explore a car in-depth, test drive, and ultimately purchase.
With digital showrooms, online consumers can explore car options online and immediately connect with a salesperson who virtually guides them through the car-buying process. With video chat, the salesperson can bring the buyer into the showroom virtually, giving them a 360° view of the vehicle or close-ups of the interior. Online appointment setting allows car buyers to schedule a virtual meeting or an in-person test drive as it fits their needs. In addition, dealership’s staff can transform from “pushy” sales reps to product consultants, enabling natural, easy information-based conversations with potential buyers. This shift toward a “hybrid” car shopping experience primarily done online is making auto sales more closely resemble traditional e-commerce, with extensive online research, 24/7 shopping, and more interactions on mobile devices.
2. Higher demand for electric vehicles
Recent car buying trends have shown an increase in electric vehicles (EVs) purchases. This global trend has been increasing over the last five years and spiked in 2020. Electric car registrations increased in major global markets in 2020 despite the pandemic, while the overall car market in the United States declined by 23% in 2020 according to an IEA report.
This growing interest in electric cars points to the rise of savvy, well-educated shoppers who care deeply about the details and sustainability of their vehicle. With a digital showroom solution, dealerships can connect online buyers with products experts who can use high-definition video chat to showcase the cars – from wide-angle exterior views to close-ups of the fine details — their customers are interested in and guide them through car configurators with cobrowsing.
3. Cobrowsing incorporated into sales to guide the auto buying journey
Cobrowsing allows the salesperson to guide the customer through the website for a smoother car-buying journey. The agent can develop a deeper engagement and stronger relationship by helping the customer navigate their options and find all the information they need, whether they’re on a laptop or mobile. Agents can easily walk customers through a car configurator, compare models, and even draw up the sales paperwork with co-form fill and file sharing during a video chat. Cobrowsing guides consumers through the product discovery process and builds trust through human interaction while still allowing them to shop virtually and at their convenience.
4. Expected rise in interest in used cars
According to McKinsey & Company, interest in buying a used car is up, close to where it was pre-pandemic. Consumers are now more interested in buying used cars for a variety of reasons. Because of the recent pandemic-related supply chain issues, especially for chips, there is more inventory of used cars than new cars. And, many commuters’ routines shifted and reduced their overall reliance on cars for daily trips, so people may not feel the need to purchase a brand-new vehicle for infrequent use. Used cars are usually less expensive than purchasing a new one, allowing consumers more financial flexibility and less overall cost.
5. Increased emphasis on a seamless customer experience
Though the car buying process is shifting towards digital innovations, it’s important to preserve person-to-person connectivity for a seamless customer experience. Connecting customers where they are with an in-showroom salesperson using video chat and cobrowsing helps showcase vehicles, creates stronger relationships, and accelerates sales. AI-powered chatbots can meet, greet, and engage with potential car buyers 24/7 by answering basic questions or cobrowsing to a relevant web page for more information. Online scheduling tools connect the virtual and in-showroom experience by allowing customers to book a virtual or in-showroom appointment to view a car or take a test drive.
By having robust features in place, car dealerships can take online interest and more easily convert a lead into a sale. Some have even seen a 35% conversion rate from video chat to test driving on digital platforms.
The 2022 auto sales trends are ushering in an exciting time for the industry. With an emphasis on innovative digital sales techniques like digital showrooms and cobrowsing, dealerships can meet the demand for used cars, EVs, and more wherever and whenever the consumer is ready to buy.
Vee24’ is helping maximize auto sales. Its digital experience platform connects car dealerships with consumers via chatbots, live auto chat, video chat, cobrowsing, online appointment setting, and more. From initial engagement to final purchase and ongoing service, our platform brings online car buying to life with immersive, educational, person-to-person engagement.