Online shopping has ramped up considerably over the past several years, and it exploded after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Worldwide e-commerce sales increased by more than $105 billion in 2020, primarily as a result of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent quarantines, stay-at-home orders, and temporary business shutdowns that followed. Although the pandemic may be dying down in some areas and most businesses have reopened their doors after pandemic-related temporary closures, e-commerce has not slowed down and the trend toward online shopping is not expected to reverse in the future. So has this changed Black Friday car shopping?

With Black Friday approaching in the near future, many consumers are curious how the explosion of online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic will affect Black Friday shopping in 2021. More specifically, many car shoppers who are hoping to take advantage of special deals and discounts at car dealerships on Black Friday this year are wondering how the uptick in e-commerce may affect car shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. If you are in the market for a new or new-to-you vehicle this Black Friday, keep reading to learn more about 5 ways e-commerce has changed Black Friday car shopping. 

  1. Expanded Online Inventories 

Many car dealerships have listed their inventories online for several years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, car dealerships had to adapt to a lack of in-person sales opportunities and one way in which they adapted was by expanding their online inventories and updating them much more frequently to reflect recent sales and re-stocks.

Tony Honda vehicle lineup

Tony Honda vehicle lineup

Although there are no guarantees, you should feel fairly confident when looking at inventories on car dealerships’ websites that you are viewing these dealerships’ full and up-to-date inventories. 

  1. Online Pre-Approval Options 

Financing your vehicle is one of the most complicated, stressful, and time-consuming parts of buying a car—and it’s an even bigger hassle to try to figure out financing

options for your next vehicle at a car dealership while also dealing with Black Friday crowds. 

Many car dealerships now offer online financing options that allow car shoppers to explore their financing options in-depth and even get pre-approved for auto loans before they ever actually set foot in the car dealership. 

  1. Artificial Intelligence 

Many car dealerships now have AI customer service chatbots that are available twenty-four hours a day on their websites. These chatbots give you the opportunity to get any basic questions you may have about the dealership, its inventory, etc. answered immediately without having to wait for the dealership’s normal business hours or call the dealership at all. 

These chatbots represent fairly new mainstream technology, but they have become very advanced and are able to answer even some of the more complicated questions you may have in order to make your car shopping process easier and more convenient. 

Some car dealership websites even give you the option to transfer from speaking to an AI chatbot to communicating with a real human representative from the car dealership. Representatives are not always available, however, so you may have to wait to get your more complicated questions answered until the dealership’s business hours resume. 

  1. Home Delivery Options 

Some car dealerships even began to offer home delivery services for their vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed car shoppers to complete the entire process of buying a car online and have their new vehicle delivered to their driveway. Home delivery continues to be an option at many car dealerships even though the vast majority of car dealerships are now open for in-person sales. 

If you opt for home vehicle delivery from a participating car dealership, you might be able to skip the Black Friday craziness altogether and get your new or new-to-you vehicle delivered directly to your driveway instead of having to fight the crowds while shopping in person at a car dealership.

  1. More Convenient Comparisons 

Comparing prices, financing options, and inventory availability at different car dealerships in your area is an important part of making sure you get the best deal possible on a new or used car on Black Friday. 

Making these comparisons using the information you can find online is now easier than ever before, and that is largely thanks to the explosion of e-commerce that has motivated car dealerships to increase the amount of information they have available on their websites.