Buying a car just got easier.
CarMax makes the online car buying experience even more convenient with Adobe Acrobat Sign and Adobe Experience Manager Forms.
Simplify car-buying experiences for customers
Give customers choices about how to purchase vehicles
Lighten the load on store associates by reducing paperwork
Serve customers better with faster document processing
Customers e-sign sales documents at their own pace, spending less time in a dealership
Digital forms enable online orders, home deliveries, and curbside pickup
Automated workflows lead to fewer errors, resulting in 30% less rework
E-signing reduces completion time by 80% for payment extension agreements
Helping customers drive off in a car they love
Jason Farneth knows a few things about buying and selling cars. He has 25 years of experience in the automotive business, starting with the auto dealership his family owned and, decades later, his own dealership. Those experiences put Farneth on the path to where he is today, as Senior Product Manager at CarMax. He’s helping CarMax execute on an omnichannel transformation — using technology to personalize the car-buying experience and make it more convenient for customers.
With 220 stores in 41 states, CarMax is the largest used-car retailer and among the top 10 used car loan originators in the United States. It sells 800,000 vehicles every year. CarMax is focused on creating an exceptional customer experience — always working to make it easier for people to shop for used cars and sell or trade in their old ones.
And it’s not just about doing business online, as Farneth points out. It’s about giving customers choices.
“Whether people want to shop online or come into a store and see the car in person, CarMax empowers customers to move between channels seamlessly — that’s the point of omnichannel,” says Farneth. “Customer journeys will vary, but the goal is the same: helping customers drive off in a car they love. Our omnichannel experience is a true differentiator in the industry.”
A new car—and the stack of paperwork that comes with it
An important component of transitioning to an omnichannel customer experience was tackling transaction logistics including paperwork.
“A car is typically the second biggest purchase the average person makes in their lifetime, so it’s inevitable there’s going to be a lot of paperwork,” Farneth says. He should know. As a self-taught coder and technophile, he built a dealership management system to streamline the large volume of forms in his own dealership. Now at CarMax, he and his team were tasked with something similar — making paperwork more manageable — but on a much larger scale.
“CarMax created the eDocs team to reduce the number of forms used across the company and make them more manageable,” says Farneth. “As we started digging into the opportunity, we found that paperwork requirements vary by state making the project complex.”
With hundreds of thousands of transactions annually and an average of 30 documents per transaction, the company processes an estimated 24 million documents every year. At that scale, even minor improvements could add up to major efficiency gains. But the company needed the right technology to handle that volume.
“We needed flexibility and speed to create and generate documents on such a large scale,” Farneth says. “We reviewed several technology suites for digital workflows and e-signature capabilities, and Adobe rose to the top. Its sophisticated APIs give us a lot of control over the solution and allows us to automate everything.”
“This is an incredibly quick and easy process. Whereas before, associates had to guide customers through the contracts and use those yellow ‘sign here’ flags, it’s now all managed seamlessly in Adobe Acrobat Sign and Adobe Experience Manager Forms.”
Senior Product Manager, CarMax
Customers facing adversity get help, in a fraction of the time
Farneth and the eDocs team decided to start with payment extension letters — a relatively simple form with a potentially big impact on customers. CarMax sends payment extension letters to customers who face adverse circumstances and need to delay or move a payment. With few data points and minimal state-specific customization required, the form was a perfect test case for e-signatures.
The letters are also time-sensitive — if it takes too long for a customer to sign, the agreement is invalidated. In the past, that was a real concern, as it could take 10 days or more to generate a letter, mail it to a customer, and receive a signed copy back. Sending letters out through Adobe Acrobat Sign, Farneth saw an immediate change. It was just in time for an influx of requests.
“After Hurricane Harvey, many customers requested payment extensions while their insurance claims were being processed,” says Farneth. “A few weeks in, we began to deliver the letters through Adobe Acrobat Sign and saw completion time drop by 80%. Because customers received an email and could sign electronically right away, the average turnaround became one or two days instead of 10.”
That early success was all Farneth and his team needed to forge ahead. Next on their list was the expansive world of sales documents — the key to transforming the car-buying experience, both in person and online.
“I remember talking with the first customer to use our e-signature experience. She signed everything during a lunch break at work, we delivered at 4:30PM, and she left the office in a beautifully loaded GMC Yukon.”
Senior Product Manager, CarMax
CarMax rolls out a better car-buying experience with e-signatures
Auto dealerships can’t cut corners when it comes to sales documents. There are all kinds of rules governing them — forms must be printed on the right paper, presented to customers in a certain order, stored properly, delivered to state agencies and lenders, and free of errors. And until recently, CarMax associates handled much of it by hand.
Today, however, generating sales documents is digital and highly automated. Adobe Experience Manager Forms is used to create dynamic form templates, customized by state and stored in a central repository for easy access. For store associates, it’s simply a matter of requesting the documents — the system automatically generates them and puts them in the right order, filling in details about the purchase price, taxes and fees, VIN number, service plans, and more. When they’re ready, the seamless integration between Forms and Acrobat Sign enables them to send signature-ready agreements, all electronically.
“For anyone who has used Adobe Acrobat Sign, this is an incredibly quick and easy process,” says Farneth. “Whereas before, associates had to guide customers through the contracts and use those yellow ‘sign here’ flags, it’s now all managed seamlessly in Adobe Acrobat Sign and Adobe Experience Manager Forms.”
As for customers, they get a clean, organized packet of forms via email and can sign at their convenience. That could be on a desktop at work. It could be on a tablet when CarMax delivers a vehicle to their home. Or it could be at the dealership, right before driving away with a new car.
“Digital sales documents transform the car-buying experience,” Farneth says. “I remember talking with the first customer to use our e-signature experience. She signed everything during a lunch break at work, we delivered at 4:30PM, and she left the office in a beautifully loaded GMC Yukon.”
“Automating sales documentation with Adobe has resulted in 30% less rework, and CarMax is reducing the cost of paper, toner, and physical storage required for millions of documents every year.”
Senior Product Manager, CarMax
Giving customers the power of choice
Farneth’s work on the eDocs team supported CarMax’s transformation into an omnichannel retailer, giving customers a customizable, personalized experience. With the ability to review and sign most sales documents electronically, customers can complete the bulk of the paperwork before picking up their new car or having it delivered. The few remaining documents can be signed in a few minutes.
That quick and easy handoff became even more crucial than Farneth expected, also supporting the company’s new contactless curbside pick-up that was launched in response to customer demand and needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We started rolling out e-signatures early in the pandemic,” he says. “It was good timing. We wouldn’t have been able to offer these new delivery models without Adobe Acrobat Sign and Adobe Experience Manager Forms.”
Customers could finalize their transactions, including a test drive and final signatures, from the driver’s seat — without entering the dealership at all, an important option during the pandemic.
Digital documents make life easier for store associates
Using digital workflows and e-signatures also lightens the load for associates who are often busy with administrative tasks. That means less time preparing paperwork and fighting with the printer over paper jams. It also means fewer errors.
“Automating sales documentation with Adobe has resulted in 30% less rework related to missing signatures or inaccurate details,” says Farneth. “Plus, CarMax is reducing the cost of paper, toner, and physical storage required for millions of documents every year while making a more seamless experience for our associates,” says Farneth.
Digital storage makes access easier for everyone — including CarMax associates, state regulators, lenders, and customers. And the processes and systems are compliant with federal and state regulations for storing and delivering e-signature documents. The eDocs team integrated eOriginal with Adobe Acrobat Sign to handle securitized documents such as loan statements, which carry specific requirements for vaulting.
Take it from an insider — the future is bright for car dealerships
From their first use case with payment extension letters to the large-scale rollout of sales documents, Farneth and the eDocs team have been learning and iterating — gradually scaling up the program to make an enterprise-level impact. The team is assessing what’s next, looking for ways to make the car buying and selling process even more simple and seamless for CarMax’s customers.
For Farneth, it’s another exciting step in a journey he started long ago — toward a better, smoother car dealership experience through digital transformation.