Here's Why Many People Are Shopping for Cars Online

Laura Buckman | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Car buying has long been a process many Americans hate. Increasingly, dealers and companies are trying to find ways to leverage the appeal of online shopping to make it less painful.

Historically, buyers who wanted a car had to take a trip to the local dealership, where they might select a vehicle off the lot. The buying process has a reputation for taking hours and being stressful. One of the biggest pain points is the process of negotiating, which many buyers feel underprepared for.

As online shopping continues to grow, businesses are experimenting with alternatives to this process.

Traditional automotive dealers are building out their own web presences, offering at-home pickup and delivery services to spare customers the trip to the dealership. Many will allow customers to do paperwork over the internet at their own convenience — in order to address another pain point.

There are also exclusively online auto sellers, such as Carvana and Vroom. These businesses keep very large inventories. Vroom, for example, offers about 14,000 cars. The company also provides 24-hour shopping experiences, allows buyers to do everything online, and it sell cars with a straightforward sticker price.

Substantial portions of car buyers still want to be able to see, touch and drive the cars they are about to purchase. But shoppers are becoming more comfortable with buying things online. Decades ago, it was thought consumers would be reluctant to buy clothing or furniture online, and that has changed as well. Many who follow automotive retail think it is only a matter of time before buying online becomes commonplace as well.

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