The future of car-buying: What dealerships in 2030 need to stay relevant

In August 2018, leading two-sided digital automotive marketplace Cars.com announced Matthew Gold as Chief Strategy Officer. Gold’s experience across strategy development, technology and consulting, made him responsible for evolving and expanding the company‚Äôs long-term growth strategy and creating strategic alignment across all Cars.com brands.

Also, Gold worked at Google, where he served as a head of strategy and operations for emerging-market partnerships at YouTube and Google Consumer Surveys.

He sat down for a Q&A published in Texas Dealer Magazine and had some candid thoughts about changes in car-buying in the next decade.

“What are implications for deaerships in 2030?”

From the dealership perspective, this means having the tools available to cut down search time. Otherwise, customers will go elsewhere — we’ve seen this time and time again. The quality of recommendations from search engines will dramatically increase customer satisfaction and their willingness to use the platform.

Dealers will need to get much smarter about understanding their customers and about offering a sales experience that makes sense for each customer. The days of the salesperson asking, “So what brought you in today?” should be over. The dealer should already know that. They should already have the cars waiting. They should already have payment packages designed and ready. Be in a place where the entire shopping experience can be customized to the individual byer will go from being a luxury to being the norm and the expectation.

In other words, dealers will have to adapt and change. I don’t think the dealership is obsolete. There will continue to be a role for local auto dealerships in a variety of different markets in the US and overseas. What will be different is that dealers will have to compete with other players they are not used to competing with — including OEMs that sell direct and digital used-car players. And they’re going to have to compete with one another in new ways over longer distances. The monopoly that the local dealer had over customers in its own geographic area is probably gone.

Matthew Gold, former chief strategy officer of Cars.com

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