Online buying changes buying experience

As new computer technology merges with traditional aspects of the auto industry, local consumers have a variety of options from both.

One option is “building” your own auto on the Internet, which local dealers say can help guide buyers through a myriad of options.



Either way, delivery of the vehicle will be made to the local dealership. But while the online option is enticing – and can be useful – sales professionals say that less technological approaches can often result in more immediate satisfaction.



In most cases, they say, a sales person can find a car with the colors, interiors and options most customers prefer by checking inventories of cooperating dealers within a 100-mile radius.

There are special circumstances where online buying would help consumers come closer to their “dream car.”



That’s the case with the $100,000 Nissan GTR, billed as a “supercar” by its maker.



Those cars already have a delivery span of three months or more – which connoisseurs say is worth the wait – and are therefore ideal for Internet building.

At Greg LeBlanc Nissan, sales staff said a combination of online resources and personnel are used.



For more traditional cars, sales professionals at various dealerships say a combination of Internet and human resources often works best.



“We can sit down and build it together,” said Jenica Rogers, Internet sales manager at Barker Buick GMC in Houma. “Or, if they are more comfortable with doing it themselves at home, they can do that, too. It’s easy for many to work right on the Internet, but others are not as computer savvy.”

Potential buyers can go to www.buick.com and select their options, or at least get a good view of availabilities.



“We do have quite a few that take advantage of the online option, or, if they don’t want the eight or 12 week waiting period, we can try to find what they want from another dealer, if we don’t already have it in stock,” Rogers said.



If buying from stock or through the dealership’s network, consumers should know that not all the options they may desire will always be available.

Using the complete Internet option is seen as better for those with very specific equipment desires “who don’t want to settle.”

Even before the technology boom, buyers often had to wait for delivery of cars with all the specific options they required, the traditional method for “custom” purchases.

The Internet options, dealers say, enhance knowledge for consumers.

They did caution against undue reliance on Internet sites that recommend what the lowest purchase prices of cars should be.

The sites, they said, do not always take into account various charges that could affect the price of automobiles.

For consumers shopping for pre-owned autos, some Internet options are available that can save time and bring them up to speed on what a particular dealer has to offer.

Local Wholesale Autoplex locations, for example, list their stock directly on their site.

“They can go to www.wholesaleautoplex.com and view selections,” said Sales Manager Jeremy Hughes.

The dealership specializes in domestic and foreign luxury used cars, usually on the higher end, as well as trucks.

The highest end vehicles on the market allow for customization.

The site tailormade.ferrari.com is among those offering build-your-own options for the most discriminating buyer. Prices run about $250,000 and up. For those who might appreciate a Lamborghini but don’t have the scratch, www.lambocars.com offers the option of building a virtual Lamborghini, which can at least feed the fantasy.

Jenica Rogers, Internet manager at Barker Buick GMC, shows accounts clerk Kayla Oncale vehicle options on the dealership’s build-your-own car system. The World Wide Web is making it commonplace for customers’ tastes to drive vehicle sales.

JOHN DeSANTIS | TRI-PARISH TIMES