The trend of shopping online for vehicles, new or used, was already gaining momentum in recent years, but COVID-19 accelerated that shift greatly. It's now more important than ever to tap into that digital automotive marketplace, and that's exactly what Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) plans to do as it officially launches Ford Blue Advantage today.

The program, in collaboration with Ford's dealership network, creates a new digital marketplace allowing Ford dealers to connect more seamlessly with consumers searching for certified used vehicles. The online website consolidates Ford dealerships' collection of certified vehicles backed by a warranty, along with services like home delivery, at-home test drives, and video walkaround -- all crucial components in a growing digital automotive marketplace where consumers spend an average of 10 to 12 hours online shopping for a used vehicle.

Online car buying graphic

Image source: Getty Images.

"We can now connect the right shopper to the right pre-owned Ford vehicle faster than ever," Andrew Frick, Ford's vice president for U.S. marketing, said in a press release. "Providing a great digital experience is paramount today, but we know customers still want to touch, smell and feel a vehicle before they buy it. Ford Blue Advantage offers the best of both worlds, enabling customers to shop online or come into a dealership, or a combination of both."

According to Ford's internal data, over 3 million used Ford vehicles were sold in the U.S. in 2019. Its own dealership network accounted for only roughly one-third of those sales, a performance the company hopes to vastly improve upon.

It's never been more important for automakers to convert online clicks into sales, whether for new or used cars, and Ford Blue Advantage is meant to give dealers the insight and technology to better serve consumers looking to purchase certified used vehicles.

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