HARDLY a big surprise that new car buyers are doing much of their research on the internet – but a new report reveals that online research has now overtaken showroom visits in the buying process.
The findings show that there has been a surge in consumers using the internet to research their next car, with over half (57%) using the internet to help them decide on their vehicle choice, up from 40% in 2017.
In comparison, just 53% of car buyers visit a franchised or independent dealer. (Source: Close Brothers Motor Finance, July 2018).
Not surprisingly, those aged over 65, favoured visiting a dealership (57%) rather than carrying out research online (46%), whereas 18-21 year olds ranked visiting a dealership much lower as a research method, with 61% choosing the internet, versus 33% who turn to dealers.
According to Dragon2000, with more and more consumers carrying out research online before buying a car, it is vital that dealers ensure their websites convert leads into sales.
Mark Kelland, Commercial Manager at Dragon2000, said: “Increasingly, consumers are visiting a host of websites when are the considering buying their next car, rather than visiting dealerships.
“With so much information at their fingertips, some car buyers don’t even need a test drive. They simply carry out online research to find their next car and either visit the dealership to make the purchase, or agree the deal and have it delivered to them.
“If dealer websites are slow, difficult to navigate and use, this will turn off car buyers. The internet gives dealers the opportunity to create a virtual showroom and their websites should engage visitors and motivate them to make an enquiry or visit.
“Cheap, poorly designed template websites do not give visitors a good experience. In fact, they can turn off prospective buyers in seconds.
“Having an individually designed, bespoke website means dealers have the freedom to stand out from the crowd.
“Branding makes a dealer’s business unique, so they need to make use of their logo colour scheme in the website. Unfortunately, templates offer very limited branding options, usually just a logo and stock header images, with a limited choice of colours which can make a website look plain and dull.”