Now that we’re solidly into 2020, there are a handful of emerging trends that auto retailers should be prepared for. Most notably, the rising number of cars sold online via home-delivery services, auto insurance products shifting toward on-demand coverage and digital retailers offering a flood of added-value products beyond traditional finance and insurance options. Here’s what we can expect to see in the year ahead.

Historically, dealers have struggled to combat the purchasing skepticism that accompanied vehicle ownership via an app. Yet, Tesla Inc.’s transition to online ordering signaled an inflection point in the industry, with an increasing number of vehicle sales transacted online through home-delivery players such as Carvana and Vroom. Accelerating into the digital car-buying space with the audacious tag line, “Car buying shouldn’t suck,” Carvana has continually pushed the envelope by offering doorstep deliveries, seven-day trial periods (up to 250 miles) and buy-back guarantees with impressive, single-digit return rates. As we move into 2020, we will continue to witness a host of digital dealers drive 100 percent online car buying with curbside delivery services and seamless return options.

Given that digital retailers must obtain proof of insurance before dropping a vehicle at a customer’s doorstep, we’ll see a huge opportunity for on-demand insurance coverage. Instead of hitting the speed bump that the traditional insurance process typically creates, digital car buyers soon will have the option to answer a few quick questions while checking out to receive a real-time quote. Pre-populated with existing information from the auto sale, this new insurance tool will be seamlessly integrated into an all-in-one digital checkout platform. Customers won’t have to navigate third-party websites to chase down coverage options on their own. For the digital dealers out there who want to get up to speed in the year ahead, I’d suggest serving up one comprehensive customer experience that alleviates any foreseeable barrier to purchase.

We’ll see digital retailers offer additional products beyond traditional F&I options. Currently, some online retailers are limited in the products they offer. This often includes a vehicle service contract, which is extended bumper-to-bumper coverage, alongside a GAP policy. Moving beyond standard service contracts and GAP policies, we’ll see an influx of add-ons that create value for dealerships and customers alike. Everything from prepaid oil changes to tire and wheel protection, key replacement and ding repair. There are a slew of extra services to consider, and digital dealerships that explore the possibilities will benefit

Undoubtedly, customers are becoming increasingly more comfortable shopping for a new car from the comfort of their couch. With this newfound adoption, we’ll see more and more dealerships mimic the digital model. These new online transactions won’t replace the dealership interaction per se, they’ll simply move the interaction into the digital space. It’s up to digital dealerships to create progressive, forward-thinking platforms that offer on-demand insurance coverage, as well as added-value products that satiate customer appetites beyond predictable F&I offerings.

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