Dealer Research Focuses on Impact of COVID-19 and the Rise of Digital Retail

February 9, 2021

MAX Digital, a leading data-driven software provider for automotive dealers, released its fifth annual dealer research study on digital retailing challenges and what opportunities exist for success after a tumultuous year. In conjunction with Erickson Research, MAX Digital surveyed more than 421 dealers across the United States in late 2020.

Key findings from the research include:

  • Profits are up. New car profits increased by $251 per vehicle compared to 2019. Seventeen percent of dealers saw an increase of more than $2,000 per new car, compared to just 9 percent in 2019.
  • COVID-19 accelerated digital retail. 85 percent of dealers said there was an increase in their online process in 2020. However, younger managers (under 44) said the pandemic was only part of the reason. While 53 percent of managers, 45 and older, attributed the online increase to COVID-19.
  • Actual online sales are rare. Of the dealers who said they sold cars completely online, the majority stated it made up only 1—9 percent of their overall sales.
  • Omnichannel is improving. 81 percent of dealers said they had an online to offline process. This was up 5 percent from 2019. However, 88 percent of dealers said their process needs some changes to work seamlessly with digital retailing.
  • Online will only increase over time. Dealers in our study predicted half of all vehicles will be delivered off site in 10 years. However, car buyers may desire that day to come sooner.

“Our survey showed us that auto retailing is heading into a new frontier,” said MAX Digital’s Chief Executive Officer Robert Granados. “Customers are ready for this change, and the industry is prepared for digital transformation. Dealers need to be agile in offering the customer experience that consumers expect. As omnichannel continues to improve, we will see more integration of technology into the sales process, as well as broader acceptance of change throughout the industry.”

More than 421 U.S. dealers completed the survey online in November 2020. Respondents included General Managers, Dealer Principals, Used Car Managers, and Internet Managers.

Access the full report findings here: