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GM Makes Internet Buying Tool Available to All U.S. Dealers

Buyers can handle entire transaction on the Web.

by on Nov.06, 2013

Just a week after saying the company was piloting Shop-Click-Drive with 100 dealers, GM made it available to all 4,300 U.S. dealers.

One week after General Motors’ CEO Dan Akerson said the company wanted to make it easier to buy cars and trucks online in partnership with its dealers and that it was piloting a program, the company rolled out its expanded Shop-Click-Drive tool to all GM dealers nationwide.

The tool allows users to complete all aspects of a purchase online, from getting a price to applying for financing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. GM’s 4,300 Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick-GMC dealerships can feature the Shop-Click-Drive tool on their Web sites.

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“We want to make it easier and simpler for dealers to connect with customers who are looking to combine the convenience of online shopping with the personal service of a neighborhood dealership,” said GM’s Kurt McNeil, vice president, U.S. Sales Operations. “We engaged dealers to help us develop ‘Shop-Click-Drive’ to address this need.”

GM piloted this version of Shop-Click-Drive earlier this year, then expanded the pilot program to about 100 dealers. They sold nearly 1,000 vehicles using the new system. The automaker began notifying dealerships today that they can add the tool to their individual websites.

It will take a couple of days to get them up-and-running on their sites. Dealers have typically been wary of using the Internet to sell cars and trucks, but attitudes have been changing over time.

During the pilot, GM encouraged dealers to arrange test drives or even home delivery of vehicles, but fewer than 10 buyers actually handled the transaction without setting foot in a dealership, according to the company.

“Shop-Click-Drive is a cutting-edge digital service that no other automaker has today,” said Todd DeNooyer, general manager of DeNooyer Chevrolet in Kalamazoo, Mich., and a participant in the pilot phase.

“It’s been a good partnership and has given us a tool to grow our business and reach out to new customers.”

While the new system allows the entire transaction to be handled online, dealers are still involved in the process. This follows the long-held mantra from dealers that dealers, not the makers, should sell vehicles…even on the Internet.

(GM piloting Internet-based program to sell vehicles. For more, Click Here.)

David Westcott, NADA chairman, said in a recent speech “car buyers who want to buy over the Internet do so today from dealers. But most want to shop on the Internet and then come into the dealership to take a test-drive and finalize the overall transaction.”

Despite the reticence of dealers to adopt web-based sales tools from automakers, it hasn’t stopped the companies from trying.

(Click Here to see the uptick in U.S. car sales in October.)

Ford introduced an online site called FordOnline in the U.K. in 2010. It allowed buyers to complete a purchase online and have the vehicle delivered by one of 50 dealerships that are wholly owned by Ford. The site has not migrated to the U.S. yet.

Sites like CarsDirect.com and Autobytel can help you compare different makers, but buying isn’t an option. In 2006, TrueCar.com began providing users with pricing information, but dealers complained the website made too much information available.

TrueCar’s model has changed since its inception. It still provides pricing information to users, but it has partnered with dealerships across the country provide pricing information and the dealers willing to honor it.

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