Capturing Your Dealership’s Share of the Digital Retailing Market – Joe St. John, AutoFi


Dealerships are seeing less foot traffic as the retail automotive industry heads online. More dealers are being equipped and empowered with tools to thrive in a digital retailing environment. eCommerce platforms like AutoFi, are making the transition smoother for many of these dealers. Today, Joe St. John, Head of Digital Retail at AutoFi, discusses what he’s seeing as the industry pivots.

A lot of dealers hit the proverbial panic button in mid-to-late March earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They scrambled to get the right tools and technology in place to bring their business online. However, technology can only take dealers so far. There has to be a commitment to process all the way from the dealer principal down.

Joe comes from an automotive family and has worked in dealerships for years. He now assists many clients and friends in making decisions that put the dealer group first. Back in March, Joe says those were really tough conversations.

“The customer behavior has been changing for a while,” says Joe. “We’ve seen all of the statistics about the percentage that are shopping online, how much research they are doing, and the actual behaviors that were changing. What COVID did was accelerate that change.”

However, to achieve a successful digital retailing, the industry as a whole has to get better at training, according to Joe. In fact, Joe created a 12-week masterclass through AutoFi that gives dealers a solid foundation which they can continually layer on top off. There also has to be a shift in mindset. Dealers and employees need to buy-in to the adoption of digital retailing. Making a deal or acquiring a customer no longer can be purely done online or purely in the showroom, it has to encompass everything in between.

The percentage of consumers who want to purchase online will only increase as time goes on, and they become more aware of the options available to them. In fact, 40% of legitimate credit applications coming through AutoFi are from consumers 50-years-old or above. So, now is the time for dealers to grab their share of this market.

Joe St. John is an automotive retail veteran with over 15 years of experience, holding the position of salesperson, general manager, and some in between. Prior to AutoFi, he was the National Director of Training at Innovative Aftermarket Systems.

Did you enjoy this interview with AutoFi’s Joe St. John? Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic with host Jim Fitzpatrick at

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