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E-commerce has been on the rise for well over a decade, but coronavirus-stricken 2020 will forever be known as the year it exploded. Contact-free shopping for essential items became critical for many, though purchasing a brand new car isn't what you'd call essential. Still, many dealerships took special steps to woo new car buyers, and Nissan went further with a pilot program for online car shopping called Nissan@Home.

It started as a trial run over the summer. Instead of circumventing dealerships, Nissan@Home sees dealerships handle the entire process remotely through the internet. That includes scheduling and completing a vehicle test drive, to the actual purchase process and final delivery. Seven dealerships in the US were part of the pilot program that took place over the summer, and apparently, it was a big success. One Nissan dealership in Virginia said their sales close-rate nearly doubled through this program.

As such, Nissan is now ready to take its Nissan@Home online service nationwide. Dealerships can enroll to be part of the program, and while it's completely voluntary, Nissan believes availability for customers across the US should be in place by the spring of 2021.

Nissan Home

"Nissan@Home gives customers what they’re asking for – the ability to purchase a vehicle on their terms," said Dan Mohnke, Nissan US vice president of eCommerce. "Through this new program, Nissan dealers can provide a better customer experience which can, in turn, help improve their own business performance. It’s an important first for Nissan, and a great value to our customers."

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While there are likely many customers who prefer a streamlined, online buying experience "on their terms," hesitation from some dealerships could become an issue. Without face-to-face communication, dealerships could lose the opportunity to upsell buyers on different models, or common extras such as vehicle accessories or extended warranties. Presumably, the process won't be completely digital, but it's certainly a step away from the traditional dealership model.

As we've seen recently with Cadillac dealerships, there could be an unwillingness to evolve with the times, though a Nissan representative tells that customers will have the option to shop for extended warranties. Vehicle accessories aren't built into the program yet, but could be added in the near future.

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