When vehicles were first offered through the Internet, people had a wide range of questions — they wondered how the vehicle would be shipped, whether there was a guarantee with their purchase, how the “lemon law” influenced the sale, and how to adequately view the vehicle to make an informed purchase.

Like many things that are now for sale through the Internet, buying a car online has become easier. More importantly, online shopping has become preferred by many because it allows for numerous benefits. Consider the differences between in-person car shopping and shopping for a vehicle using the Internet, and discover which option is more efficient.

Online vs In-Person

The art of negotiation can be tricky. Typically, you have salespeople at the dealership who serve as a go-between for the customer and the dealership. This simple set up already puts the dealership at an advantage. They know the customer wants a vehicle because they’re there in person. The salesperson trying to make the sale can provide a few deals, but ultimately, they can’t give permission on steep discounts. This causes a back-and-forth interaction that never truly satisfies the customer. This is what gives dealerships the upper hand in negotiations. The Internet changes all of that:

Online shopping provides numerous resources

When you shop online, you have a host of possibilities to look up vehicle records easily. This will allow you to do a side-by-side comparison and shop from multiple dealers. Of course, a brand new vehicle from the dealership won’t have a past history, but this is not the case for used cars and vehicles that are sold by private sellers. Private sellers may try to hide something from you to guarantee their sale. With a complete history, you would be able to see an honest account of mileage, accidents, and other pertinent information to make an informed decision. This information is nearly impossible to access without a phone, and even that takes time to look up when you go to see a vehicle in person.

Online shopping provides for a quick, customized approach

In-person shopping can take time because once you get to the dealership, you have to physically view the lot, if you don’t like anything on their lot, then you have to make the drive to another dealership and start the whole process again. Online, you can build a customized selection in car colors, interior, package options and other details to meet your personal needs. You can find out which dealership has the perfect vehicle of your choosing all from the comfort of your home.

You have the advantage with online shopping

In person, you’re at the dealership’s mercy to get an amazing deal. Shopping online puts the ball in your court. Dealerships are aware that there are others who are competing for your business. Dealerships know that if the deal they offer isn’t as good as another dealership, they’ll lose out on a sale. Any time you can cause a bidding war of sorts, you’re guaranteed with numerous possibilities. Simply by shopping online, this is a guaranteed scenario. This causes dealerships to be in competition of one another, which guarantees you the best deal possible.

Which is More Efficient?

Customers don’t have to worry about haggling

According to a blog post on NerdWallet, customers prefer shopping for vehicles online because it’s less pressure than trying to negotiate prices in person. For dealers who use the new method of sales, the online world has removed virtually all aspects of back-and-forth haggling, which increases customer satisfaction. Vehicles are priced far lower in an effort to sell more vehicles by volume, and customers are free to shop around more quickly.

The process of purchasing a new or used vehicle

According to Time Inc.’s Money magazine, most people would prefer to purchase vehicles solely online. Many people hate going to a brick and mortar dealership. The process of buying a vehicle online is more efficient. It’s far easier to pull up multiple pages to compare vehicles and find all the information a customer needs than shopping for a vehicle in person.

Time needed for purchasing a new or used vehicle

According to Autotrader, the time used in shopping for a vehicle decreases the overall amount of time needed for researching new and used vehicles. The average time needed for purchasing a new vehicle decreased by five hours, and a used car decreased by three hours.

Dealerships benefit from online shopping

Here’s what many people don’t know though: Dealerships usually have greater incentive to sell vehicles online and quickly as possible as opposed to haggling about prices in person. They’ll take the sale either way but selling their vehicles online offers a greater amount of benefits for them. Dealerships can make more of a profit by selling vehicles in large volumes as opposed to trying to get the highest price on each car — this is because manufacturers may provide dealerships cash to move vehicles off their lots. This is a common practice nowadays, but there are still dealerships that prefer the older method of profits. A dealer may pay to finance or rent to have vehicles on their lot, but they can recover this cost in “holdback” from the manufacturer by selling vehicles quickly.

Apart from driving a vehicle to test it out, shopping online is far more efficient. However, you can still read numerous reviews, view safety ratings, check out a vehicle’s mileage and more to find out how the vehicle you are interested in handles. All the information you need on a vehicle can be found online. But it’s not to say that you can’t have the best of both worlds — you can always visit the dealership later.

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This article was worked on by a variety of people from the Autoversed team, including freelancers, editors, and/or other full-time employees.