IF ever confirmation was needed that car buyers are increasingly researching online rather than visiting showrooms, GForces NetDirector digital platform has revealed that a vehicle is sold online every nine minutes.
Lockdowns and the resultant flexibility of working from home has changed everything. Now the most popular time to buy a vehicle is between 10am and midday, according to GForces’ data.
More than 1,650 UK franchised car retailers now use the NetDirector e-commerce platform and Chief Commercial Officer Tim Smith said the pandemic had brought into sharp focus the need for carmakers and retailers to operate an effective ecommerce strategy.
He added: “Leading-edge digital technology, designed to complement offline channels is essential to delivering sales success
“While the data provided by our NetDirector platform clearly shows the huge acceleration in online car buying, one can be certain that there is much more change to come and that it will come quickly.
“However, that is not to say that the traditional car showroom is consigned to history. Far from it in fact. They have a critical role to play. Blending ‘bricks and clicks’ as part of an enjoyable, seamless omnichannel consumer experience is the key to the future. With two decades of expertise in this field, GForces is perfectly placed to help automotive sellers meet the exacting requirements of online buyers both today and tomorrow.”
Further patterns emerging through the GForces data include the significant increase in home delivery, up 35% between January 2020 and January 2021. Unsurprisingly, deliveries peaked in the lockdown months, particularly in April where it accounted for 14% of all sales alone.
British car buyers are also securing cars online from further afield, with the average distance of 80 miles recorded with online transactions, compared to only 35 miles for face-to-face purchases, clearly giving retailers much greater reach. In fact, for some, the appeal of a simple online purchase for a high-quality car is so strong that they are prepared to go even further, with one customer ordering a car to his home in Malta from a UK-based retailer.
Another key trend which emerged during 2020 was the growth of Android and Apple Pay for making online purchases to cover car reservation fees, deposits and outright purchase. These new payment methods have already accounted for £23m of sales since being integrated into the NetDirector platform, with GForces forecasting the figure to rise significantly as even more UK retailers embrace its potential.