Based on data from the latest Auto Trader digital survey, 71% of used car buyers visit a dealer's website before making their purchase. Interviewing some 1,300 new and used car customers, revealed a higher proportion of digital forecourt visits for car supermarket customers (78%) and independents (75%). The proportion visiting a franchised website was lower at just over 60%. For buyers the most important thing on a dealer website is, perhaps unsurprisingly, stock. More than half of respondents said they visited a website to check the range of stock, 41% to check availability of a car for sale and 53% to compare pricing. One in five looked for information such as opening hours and contact details while location maps were sought by only 13% of visitors.
“The internet has fundamentally changed the way cars are bought and sold. Consumers do most of their research online when looking for their next car and this includes visiting dealers' websites", commented Auto Trader's Market Research Director Nick King. “Consumers don't feel the need to contact dealers as much either; they simply turn up on a forecourt knowing exactly what they want to buy."
The research also suggests that dealer websites are proactively used to build trust in the dealership from which they wish to buy. As many as one in ten buyers actively look for customer testimonials on a dealer website with a similar proportion seeking background information on the dealership itself. This could include how long it has been in business and what finance options are on offer.
Building trust is an important factor in the success of many car businesses. Lookers PLC, with a head office in Manchester, has achieved this through its business ethos of 'Customers for Life. Lookers showrooms are places you actually want to visit and the sales staff are people customers can talk with. The fuel that keeps this business successfully motoring includes 31 brands and 8000 cars across the country, leading customer service and cutting edge digital solutions.
Nigel McMinn, Lookers Motoring Division Chief, sums it up perfectly “Customers want to know that when they have done a lot of research on the internet, and they come into the branch that the people here know a bit about them so they don't have to start from scratch."
By Tracey McBain