Electronic Signatures a Catalyst for Faster Car Purchasing

Mary Ellen Power, March 31, 2015

The retail industry has experienced significant disruption in the past decade, and the resulting environment is one in which customers are expecting fast, responsive shopping experiences. New technologies have empowered consumers to shop for goods more quickly than ever, and better shipping and warehousing workflows have allowed retailers to step up their game and get products to consumers as efficiently as possible. The result has been a huge shift in customer experience expectations, and many retail segments need to adapt.

According to a recent Metro News Canada report, the automotive retail industry is one of the last bastions of legacy sales processes, and the sector is starting to shift toward more efficient operations. Electronic signatures are one of the key tools in this area, as the ability to use electronic signature software during automotive transactions eliminates much of the cumbersome paperwork that goes into buying a car and reduces the time it takes for buyers to complete a transaction. Sonic Automotive is a clear example of this trend.

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Looking at new car selling paradigms
Citing a survey from AutoTrader, the news source explained the vast majority of car buyers who need to spend 2.5 hours or more to purchase their car end up unhappy with their experience. The 1.5 hour mark tends to be the sweet spot that dealerships need to aim for, as anything longer is getting into dicey territory. This is leading many dealerships to turn to new sales models that reduce the number of people a shopper needs to go through to complete a transaction and allows them to handle more tasks through a single point of contact.

Industry expert Chris Travell told Metro News Canada that millenials are playing a vital role in pushing auto retailers to accelerate their processes, and Sonic Automotive is one of the first dealership groups to revitalize their operations according to new trends. The organization has worked to develop a sales process that will allow consumers to come into the sales office and leave with a new car in 45 minutes. They accomplish this by assigning each person who comes in a personal Guest Experience Guide who can act as the primary point of contact throughout the sales process.

According to Travell, this individual is a non-commissioned worker who can use a mobile device to access sales date, finance forms and similar documents. Electronic signatures allow the Guest Experience Guide to handle many of the key sales tasks directly through the mobile device, simplifying the purchasing process for everybody. Electronic signatures are the linchpin that makes all of this possible, as the technology allows dealerships to collect customer signatures on the tablet without having to print out files and deal with cumbersome and time-consuming paper-based tasks. At this stage, Travell explained that major dealerships will be leading the charge to new sales methodologies, but they are establishing operational methods that could trickle down throughout the industry.

E-signatures as a strategic enabler
Many industries face a situation in which they want to move to more digital operations, but face contracts, financial agreements and similar documents that have prevented them from adopting electronic records management methods. This has left many organizations, and entire industries, clinging to legacy methods for getting the job done despite changes in consumer behavior. In many cases, e-signature tools end up serving as the tool that gets businesses over the initial innovation hump. Signatures are often a final barrier to going digital, and e-signature functionality breaks that roadblock down, freeing organizations to change their processes to create a better customer experience.

Check out our e-signature FAQ page if you are interested in e-signatures, but still need to research the technology to figure out if it is right for your organization.