Automobile Sales Are Going Online

For many customers, a vehicle is the second biggest purchase they’ll make after purchasing a house. In July 2020, by way of instance, the average new vehicle price in america was $38,378, according to a Kelley Blue Book release.

Regardless of the cost, automobile sales could be moving online.

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Online Vehicles

Since at least 2018, many surveys from companies which have Google, Adtaxi (marketing agency), and MWWPR (public relations) have discovered that 80 to 90 percent of customers study a new or used vehicle online before contacting a dealership.

A number of these shopping travels begin on sites which look and behave like an ecommerce market. These websites have product search capabilities like an ecommerce website. They’ve search results pages and product detail pages (which they call automobile detail pages or VDPs).

Automotive websites like Autotrader share many features with ecommerce marketplaces.

The only thing the majority of these sites lack is a technique to purchase a vehicle. And even this is changing. EBay Motors, for instance, has always provided a means to buy vehicles, along with other leading marketplaces like Autotrader, CarGurus,, and TrueCar are implementing tools that begin the credit approval procedure.

What is more, many automobile dealerships today look and behave like ecommerce, even though some are far behind the features, functionality, and performance of contemporary platforms.

Effectively, the business has trained its own customers to shop online. And this was prior to the pandemic.


Earlier this year, once the coronavirus closed down so many companies across america and the world, car dealers quickly moved online.

In May 2020, Cox Automotive, which possesses several auto-related software tools and websites, including Autotrader, published a report considering how Covid-19 had impacted the automobile business.

Then, Cox Automotive reported that two out of three car shoppers were now more inclined to complete an automotive purchase entirely online than they were prior to the pandemic. Willingness to complete an automobile purchase online rose 73 percent when compared with sentiments before the outbreak.

More recently, Cox Automotive has stated that Covid-19 worries are waning as truck and car shoppers begin to worry more about politics and the pandemic, but the willingness to complete a car deal online could stick around.

Carvana, Vroom, CarMax

Investors, at least, appear to feel that automotive ecommerce is a promising business model relative to brick-and-mortar.

Consider three publicly-traded auto dealerships: CarMax, Carvana, and Vroom.

CarMax was launched by Circuit City, the electronics retailer, in 1993. It’s now an independent, public company and the biggest used car dealer in america with fiscal 2020 earnings of $21.42 billion, an increase of 11.9 percent over fiscal 2019. That earnings generated $888.43 million in earnings.

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That’s lots of earnings and net income, but not all investors are impressed. As of October 22, 2020, CarMax had a total market capitalization of $14.84 billion, some $6.5 billion less compared to its yearly revenue.

The relationship between earnings and market capitalization may be known as the price-sales ratio or PSR. This connection is an important evaluation metric, and it’s not uncommon to discover a range of average PSRs in a industry.

Thus, as a business, CarMax is worth less than $1 per dollar of earnings.

Auto Dealerships: Annual Revenue vs. Market Capitalization

Now contemplate Carvana and Vroom. Both firms are, in effect, ecommerce companies selling used cars. They have differences for certain, but they represent investors’ confidence in automotive ecommerce.

Vroom had fiscal 2019 earnings of $1.19 billion, an increase of 39.32 percent over the previous fiscal year. Despite that earnings, the company had a loss of over $140 million to the fiscal year. In comparison to CarMax, Vroom had less revenue and a reduction, but its market capitalization as of October 22, 2020, was $5.86 billion, approximately five times earnings. Investors apparently like Vroom’s business model, automotive ecommerce, over CarMax’s.

This distinction is even starker with Carvana.

For financial 2019, Carvana had $3.94 billion in earnings, a 101.84-percent increase over the previous year. That earnings generated a negative net earnings of over $114 million.

Despite this loss, Carvana had a market capitalization of $33.87 billion on October 22, 2020 — approximately eight times earnings — which makes it worth more than two times as much as CarMax.

While other elements can indicate investor confidence, the gap from the market capitalization and price-sales ratio between CarMax, Vroom, and Carvana may indicate that automotive ecommerce is coming in force.

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