Ford has begun to slowly migrate the car buying experience to an online format in recent months, launching Ford Blue Advantage – a new online marketplace for certified used Ford vehicles – and Ford Digital Store in Mexico, which enables customers to purchase a new vehicle 100 percent online, save for the process of actually picking up the vehicle from the dealership. Ford Express Buy was also introduced recently, but shoppers can only use it to buy a Ford Mustang Mach-E at the moment. However, as Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of the Americas and International Markets Group told Automotive News in a recent interview, it will eventually expand to other models.
“Right now, it’s operational for Mustang Mach-E, so if you made a reservation you can take that order and go all the way through to transaction,” Galhotra said. “And if you want to do a trade-in, it can give you a fair value for that and calculate that into the purchase process. We’re seeing several do that right now. The intention is, Mach-E is the first pilot and over the next few months we’ll scale the system to be available to all of our customers.”
“It‘s a really exciting way for us to sell vehicles in partnership with our dealers,” Galhotra added. “We’ve designed the system to be fully transactional, so like other websites that are very prominent in online selling, you have a cart. You can start building your vehicle, pricing it, put it in the cart and you can go all the way to make a transaction. Ford Credit can approve the customer’s credit in seconds, and you can make the payment and the dealer can deliver the car to your home. The system’s designed to do all that, but the system’s also very flexible, where the customers can hand it off and come out of that digital landscape into a more physical approach with a dealer of their choice. We’ve designed it with full collaboration with our dealership network.”
Ford Express Buy is a novel idea for the modern car shopper that may not want to spend hours at a dealership negotiating pricing and signing paperwork. But as Galhotra also points out, Ford won’t force dealers to use it, either.
“What I’ve learned over the years: us and our distribution network are part of the broader enterprise,” Galhotra said. “It’s very difficult, and I’d say not appropriate, to force these things. That’s why we work very closely with our dealer councils. There’s the overall council and other committees. It’s designed with a lot of input from them. We want this to be a pull from them. This is where the customers and marketplace are going.”
We’ll have more on Ford Express Buy soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for continuous Ford news coverage.
If Ford want to make this a success, they are going to have to dramatically improve corporate communications and remake their Customer Experience department.
That sounds like a great idea. Buying cars from a dealer is such a crap shoot. I bought 2 Fords in the past year and a half and my survey ratings were 4 stars on one 1 star on the other wishing I could give them a negative rating.
The first one was a first class experience soup to nuts: upfront as advertised online fair price, less than 20 minutes for finance, and a very thorough / knowledgeable / professional sales person. Our sales consultant gave us the best walkthrough ever and spent over 30 minutes with my wife getting her phone synched-in / going over all the technology aspects in clear and easy to understand language.
The other was terrible except for a helpful and friendly if not very knowledgeable sales person. The sales manager tried every old school used car lot trick on me and they attempted to double charge me on one option. Good thing I had my own financing because even without financing It took over 40 minutes getting through the stupid overdone paperwork. If it wasn’t for the fact that they had the one GT350 priced near sticker with the options and color I wanted within reasonable driving distance from my house, I would have walked from the deal. I nailed them on the survey.
Having Ford corporate more heavily involved in the process should help set better standards.
Echoing @GreggT, I have three FordPass accounts that I have tried to merge into one for the past two years. Still waiting. Ford customer service is sadly lacking in both knowledge and feedback with regard to this program in this instance.
With regard to online purchasing, will they offer below MSRP pricing as has been customary with all my past Ford Motor purchases?
In addition, if they start this and undercut their dealers, they will lose loyalty and many dealers will either go out of business, costing Ford millions of dollars worth of free advertising, or start carrying competing brands along with Ford products. We have a local dealer that carries Ford and Chevy, they could care less which brand you buy.
Bad mistake in my opinion, they are just not structured to make this successful.
My three local Ford dealers have treated me like royalty. I walk in the door and every salesman turns and won’t look at me.
My looks alone say “new F-150”, but no one wants to talk with me. They have no interest in doing business.
One other Ford dealer was courteous and had good product knowledge. They also closed down three weeks later.