Digital Evolution: How Car Buying is Changing

November 7, 2016 | By | In Advice
car buying

Buying a car can be stressful, but it doesn’t need to be if you know where to go and what you are looking for. Up and down the country, traditional dealerships are still going strong, with their staff ready to help you find your next used car.

Car dealers enjoy discussing the various options available and accompany you on a test drive, so they can give you advice about the car you are looking to buy. These traditional dealerships are made up of independents and franchises and there are some important, if subtle differences, between the two.

Independent dealers offer a more community-based approach to how they sell cars. You have probably heard their adverts on the local radio and seen their promotions in the local newspaper. They will often be well-known within the local community and may specialise in certain manufacturers, but the cars they stock will often be slightly older than a franchise dealer.

Franchise dealers on the other hand are tied to selling cars from a particular manufacturer and would like you to ‘buy into’ a brand. That way, if you buy a Ford Focus for example, you’ll be encouraged to buy from them again when the next version is available or upgrade to another model.

Regardless of which type of dealer you buy from; their goal is to help you find the right car for you.

But what about if going to a dealership just doesn’t suit your life?  Many people live in remote areas with only one or two dealerships nearby, while others have very busy lives due to work and family commitments and rely on online services to do their shopping. On average, classified car websites like Motors.co.uk received 16 million visitors every week in the UK during September. [1]

In fact, we recently found out that 71 per cent of consumers use three or more car search websites to find their next used car [2], and this year 65 per cent of Motors.co.uk visitors have been on the website using their smartphone or tablet [3]. Subsequently, we have seen some significant changes to how dealers are adapting in order to connect with consumers.

People now find it more convenient and are used to researching which car they want to buy or finance, before completing their purchase online. Online-only dealers like Carspring have made a business from this approach,  providing RAC-verified used cars and delivering them directly to their customers’ homes.

Another example of a dealer changing the way people buy a car is Rockar. They give customers more independence, including tests drives without a salesperson, the chance to value their old car and flexible payment options.

These sort of experiences help to save valuable time and reduce how long car buyers spend filling out paperwork. Recent research found the average car buyer will spend 90 minutes at a car dealership when they make a purchase, but an hour of this visit is taken up by completing financial and legal documents.

Evans Halshaw is an example of a traditional dealer making changes to suit its customers’ needs and now also offers to deliver cars to their customers’ front doors, like Carspring.  This approach helps people save time, with the ability to buy their next car from the comfort of their living room.

While many people are still happy to have a face-to-face conversation with a dealer to find their next car, the innovations we have seen over the last few years are making the car buying experience much more convenient for consumers and quickly becoming popular with car buyers across the country and are here to stay.

[1] Hitwise, September 2016

[2] Motors.co.uk Car Buyer Survey 2016

[3] Google Analytics, January to September 2016

James Ash

By

Content Marketing Executive at Motors.co.uk

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