Auburn Hills’ FCA Offering Online Car Shopping in Face of COVID-19

More than one-third of dealers that are part of Auburn Hills-based FCA as well as the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, FIAT, and Alfa Romeo brand websites are giving consumers the option to shop and purchase new vehicles through its Online Retailing Experience (ORE), which launched a month ago

Jeep online shopping graphic
FCA dealers and websites are offering online shopping for new cars due to COVID-19. Images courtesy of Jeep

More than one-third of dealers that are part of Auburn Hills-based FCA as well as the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, FIAT, and Alfa Romeo brand websites are giving consumers the option to shop and purchase new vehicles through its Online Retailing Experience (ORE), which launched a month ago.

The platform has been implemented by about 1,000 dealers across the country, it was announced today. More than 90 percent of the FCA U.S. dealer network now uses web-based tools to sell cars and trucks.

“We accelerated the introduction of ORE to help our dealers who were hampered by state mandates to shut down their new vehicle sales operations and showrooms amid the COVID-19 outbreak,” says Jeff Kommor, U.S. head of sales for FCA. “The response has been phenomenal. Dealers are reaching new consumers while developing a different set of customer-relations skills since many of the transactions are now being completed in a customer’s driveway rather than showroom.”

Kommer estimates that about 20 percent of new sales leads now come from online retailing, compared to about 1 percent a year earlier.

“ORE and other third-party applications have proven to be robust, reliable, and trustworthy,” he says. “It has been a journey, but we have finally reached that point where customers and dealers alike have embraced buying and selling vehicles through cyberspace.”

FCA developed the platform as a one stop shop to help dealers handle the entire process from trade-in to final signatures. It is accessible through the brand websites, participating dealer sites, and social media applications.

Customers first select a make and model from a brand website and are then transitioned to a corresponding dealership offering the selection. Features allow customers to determine trade-in value for their older vehicles, financing, and incentive availability. Customers are then provided a total cost, which is broken into monthly payment estimates. The credit application, title, loan, and all other paperwork are completed online using e-signatures. The new vehicle is delivered, and the trade-in is taken away.

Kommer says he expects the number of participating dealers to grow over the next few months.

Written by Grace Turner for dBusiness magazine.