Why Now is the Time for Auto Lenders to Go Digital


Over the past several years, the paperwork and manual processes for handling auto loans have been gradually giving way to technology-based processes. But this year has changed everything. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital solutions have quickly moved from “nice to have” to “vital” for both dealers and lenders.

Consumers have led the charge: two-thirds of car buyers surveyed said they were more likely to purchase a vehicle 100% online1. Dealers have gotten up to speed quickly: the same study found that 81% of franchise dealers and 47% of independent dealers say they now have a digital retailing solution in place.

These technology solutions help keep consumers and dealership personnel safe while keeping the deals moving – but what role do lenders play? Digital retailing tools work similarly for lenders to initiate a contact-free browsing process that can turn casual shoppers into pre-approved, contract-ready buyers for their dealer partners.

With digital retailing technology helping dealerships work deals virtually and remotely, contracting electronically is the natural next step in the deal process. And today’s customers appreciate the contactless deal experience.

Now more than ever, dealers are relying on their lender partners to support the digital solutions that keep car sales moving. Lenders are embracing technology for driving consumer engagement and expediting the signing, submission, review and funding of dealers’ contract packages. Here are some of the drivers behind many lender modernization strategies.

Digital workflows drive efficiency for everyone — and enable lenders to appear as strong service partners

In the beginning, dealers’ eContracting adoption was driven by a desire to optimize workflow efficiency to counter margin pressure and gain cash flow fluidity. But today, a contactless contract signing process and fast funding are more important to dealers than ever — and Dealertrack data shows eContracting has lenders funding their dealers as fast as the same day. Improving on this level of service helps strengthen dealer partnerships. And strong partnerships can help drive more loan originations.

Digital contract packages are designed for completeness and accuracy, ensuring that no signatures are missed, no calculation errors have been made, and no required documents are overlooked. Dealertrack data shows that eContracting can help reduce returned contracts and lower the rate of re-contracting below 1%.2

And what about office space and paper clutter? With these paperless deals eliminating hefty paper contract packages, the documents are now stored digitally — freeing up office space and lowering storage fees, while still keeping the authoritative contract and digital data readily available in case of audit.

The way forward: matching technology to business strategy

Lenders’ unique financing models and business goals make one-size-fits-all solutions a speculative approach at best. There’s ample opportunity to implement digital strategies that align to a lender’s specific business goals and the resources they have available. The right technology partner will help lenders optimize their processes, drive the online experience consumers have come to expect, and help strengthen dealer partnerships through improved service.

Read more about lender strategies for the new digital car shopper.

.1Cox Automotive COVID-19 Digital Shopping Study, April 4-5, 2020
2Based on 2019 Dealertrack eContracting transaction data

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