Ford Wants to Be the Amazon of Auto Sales

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) announced Monday that it is launching an online sales tool to give vehicle buyers the ability to search dealer inventory, view pricing and incentives, lock-in a deal, apply for financing, estimate trade-in value, and schedule a test drive before ever visiting a dealer showroom.

The new tool that Ford calls Ready.Shop.Go launches this month in several Midwestern states and will be available throughout the United States by the end of the year. The company said that future features include customizable purchase and lease options and allow customers remotely to review and digitally execute contracts with Ford Credit.

Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice-president for U.S. marketing, sales and service said:

Our customers are busy people, whether with daily work demands or spending time with their families. Quality time is scarce and downtime is even more so. Ready.Shop.Go. allows them to find the perfect vehicle online, spend significantly less time at the dealership and drive away with their new ride sooner.

According to its own research, Ford notes that 57% of people ages 30 to 44 say they are more impatient than they used to be, and that percentage rises to 63% among people between the ages of 18 and 29. More than half of those included in the survey say they considering using the internet to be a productive use of time.

Here’s what Ford claims the new tool offers:

  • Pricing transparency – participating dealers set vehicle pricing, including taxes and fees
  • Personalized incentives
  • Finance and lease options
  • Consumer promise honoring quoted deal for 48 hours (subject to vehicle availability)
  • Pricing comparison –  review actual prices with the Kelley Blue Book® Price Advisor and Trade-In Values
  • Options for scheduling test drives
  • Online credit application process through Ford Credit
  • Ability to save a deal and return later to complete the process
  • Customer selects preferred method of contact by dealership
  • Assignment of single point of contact on the dealer end to ensure the experience is well managed for the customer throughout the process

Ford’s Lincoln division already offers a pilot program under which dealers bring a vehicle to a customer’s home for a test drive and, in some cases, actually buy the vehicle at home. Other carmakers also offer services similar to Ready.Shop.Go, and several offer monthly subscription services.