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19 April 24 Press releases

Auto Trader enables omnichannel for all, supporting retailers to evolve

 

  • Auto Trader’s Deal Builder trial extends with phase two of testing now open to all FCA authorised used car retailers through their Portal accounts.
  • More purchase-ready buyers, as conversion rates double on traditional consumer enquiries; top performing retailers report conversion in excess of 80%.1
  • Retailers reporting around the clock deals, with nearly half taking place outside of normal opening hours.

 

19th April 2024, London: As part of its commitment to ensuring no retailer is left behind in meeting the growing consumer expectation for a seamless online-offline retailing experience, Auto Trader has made its innovative omnichannel solution, Deal Builder, available to all FCA authorised used car retailers to trial. It follows a successful beta testing phase, during which retailers reported more than double the conversion rate of traditional enquiries, as well as a significant reduction in haggling and time spent on admin, freeing up front-line colleagues to focus on driving even more sales. The trial extension marks a key step on the journey towards a new way of buying and selling cars that empowers consumers and is also beneficial for retailers, redefining UK automotive retailing for all.

Deal Builder has been created to help all retailers, regardless of size, to meet the growing demand for omnichannel, enabling businesses to offer a seamless online buying journey via their Auto Trader adverts. Consumers have the option to add a part-exchange, complete a finance application and choose their handover preference before completing a reservation for the vehicle. The car buyer can then inspect, test drive and finalise their purchase on the forecourt if desired and benefit from the physical experience that only a retailer can provide.

Highlighting the unprecedented change in consumer preferences, Auto Trader research shows that 70% of car buyers, rising to nine in 10 of those aged under 34, now want to complete most of the necessary car buying ‘jobs’ digitally. But whilst many buyers are already completing some of these tasks online or have stated a desire to do so, 95% still want some kind of physical experience. Indeed, a separate Auto Trader study showed that consumers switch between online and offline at different parts of the buying journey. Deal Builder provides retailers with the unique opportunity to not only adapt to these changing consumer expectations, but also improve performance, efficiency, and profits in the process.

More purchase-ready buyers
During the 12-month closed beta trial, Auto Trader worked with over 1,000 retailers, which listed more than 40,000 vehicles available to reserve online, to refine the Deal Builder journey, as well as enhance the performance and experience. This first trial phase produced some exceptional results, not least a dramatic increase in conversion rates; with consumers already completing more of the necessary car buying ‘jobs’ online, the ‘deals’ built through the solution represent a much higher purchase intent than traditional enquiries. In fact, during the trial, deals typically converted around twice the rate of enquiries, with the top performing retailers reporting conversion rates of more than 80%.

This was the experience of Culloden Cars, which took part in the beta trial. Commenting on the impact Deal Builder had on conversion, Craig Walker, Managing Director, said: “Deal Builder has increased our conversion and has helped us reach new customers that we may not have had before. Overall, the customers are more engaged which has certainly helped us.”

This was mirrored by Ryan Prince, Director at Motors Today who also took part in the trial and commented that “With Deal Builder, we’ve done deals with absolutely no contact over the phone whatsoever. And, because customers can do it seamlessly and in their own time, we’ve had deals through that we may not have previously.”

Open for business all-day, every day
Highlighting the consumer demand for greater convenience and flexibility in their retailing journey, retailers on the trial found that nearly half (45%) of all deals were generated outside of normal trading hours.2 In fact, the first deal ever built on Deal Builder, was completed by a nurse at 2:00 am; her details were waiting conveniently for the retailer when they started their day, and who went on to successfully convert the deal into a sale.

Being able to stay open for business all-day, every day, was something Niaz Kanji, General Manager at SR Motors valued. He added: “We've started to get reservations coming in after hours, which has made it as if we have a 24-hour forecourt, which has been really good for us. We wake up the morning and we've sold a couple of cars, which has been absolutely fantastic. It's really given us the confidence to grow our business.”

Culloden Cars’ Craig Walker echoed this sentiment, commenting: “It's like a second income stream for us and it’s a great feeling when you arrive in the morning, and you see that little sentence ‘A deal is waiting for you’. Its brilliant.”

A key benefit of enabling consumers to complete large parts of the retailing experience online in their own time and pace, is a significant reduction in necessary admin and time required to support a potential buyer during the early stages of their journey. This was the experience of three quarters (74%) of the retailers on the trial, who said it enabled them to focus more time on what really matters.

Bilal Ahmed Asim, Director at ST Motor Group Ltd commented on the impact of Deal Builder on their operational efficiency, saying: “Deal Builder does all that legwork for us like taking in a part exchange or completing finance which saves us 2-3 hours on every deal and means we can spend more time focusing on the customer service."

Similarly, its convenience and flexibility, which enables consumers to build a bespoke deal on their terms before visiting the forecourt, combined with the added transparency of Auto Trader’s trusted Price Indicators, meant far fewer consumers felt the need to haggle on price. Nearly, three in five (57%) retailers on the trial reported less haggling with deals made through Deal Builder.

The automotive industry is going through a period of unprecedented change. But whilst automotive retail is fast evolving, there’s no doubt that omnichannel is the future, where the role of the retailer is more important than ever. For most people buying a car is the second biggest purchase they’ll make, and the support and the physical experience that only a retailer can provide remains essential.

Key spokesperson

Karolina Edwards-Smajda

Chief Product Officer

CONNECT

Karolina continued:

“As well as the rapid growth in omnichannel, retailers face a dramatic shift to electric vehicles and changes in traditional retailing models. With so much change - research shows consumers are keen for a new way of car buying and many retailers across the UK are already making these changes - all retailers must evolve. We are here to help and Deal Builder highlights our unwavering commitment to ensuring no retailer is left behind. This is an exciting time as we work with our retailer partners to redefine UK automotive retailing to deliver a new car buying experience.”

A key part of the new phase of the trial will be driving greater awareness of Deal Builder to the millions of car buyers visiting Auto Trader every month, and as such will be scaling up its consumer-facing activity to drive even more digital-ready buyers to its partners’ adverts.

This new phase of the trial will allow used car retailers to manage deals through their Auto Trader Portal account. The next phase will see Deal Builder incorporated into Auto Trader’s API solution, Auto Trader Connect, which enable deals to be managed in retailers’ own systems. It will also be made available to new car and van retailers. For more information on Deal Builder, and to register their interest in joining the trial, retailers are invited to speak to their account managers.

1 Retailer quantitative survey, January 2024. N=23
2 Auto Trader data analysing all deal volume from July – December 2023. Based on 9am-5pm typical opening hours

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