Press release

Dealer reviews shown to drive car sales as retailers start to embrace transparency

Dealer reviews left by consumers or personal recommendations contribute to circa 2.1 million vehicles sales.

  • Dealer reviews are a key way to deliver transparency and build trust with consumers
  • New research benchmarks how automotive sites compare to other retail sectors when it comes to delivering transparency to consumers

Auto Trader research has revealed the importance of dealer reviews in driving sales. Its Annual Car Buying Research* revealed that a total of 30% of respondents had bought a car based on dealer reviews or recommendations by family and friends.

The BCA Used Car Market Report tells us circa 7.2 million used cars were sold in 2014, and 30% is 2.1 million. We could, therefore, argue that 2.1 million have been sold, and dealer reviews and personal recommendations have contributed toward these sales.

An analysis of Auto Trader data also revealed that on average consumers spend 10% more time on the profile page of dealers who display consumer reviews compared to those who don’t**. That can deliver more advert views, and, in turn, more consumers visiting a retailer’s forecourt looking to buy.

Nick King, Auto Trader’s Insight Director, said: “Building trust is one of the most important tasks of a retailer’s website, and transparency is the number one driver of trust. Trust leads to more sales with better margins and increases customer retention. The addition of dealer reviews provided by consumers is one of the best ways to deliver that transparency.”

Auto Trader has already launched dealer reviews and currently has 820 retailers providing over 6,400 consumer reviews with some already enjoying the benefits.

Bob Merrell, Manor Garages, said: “I think that it is important today to build customer confidence, particularly when they are travelling long distances to buy a car, or even buying it unseen. We are fortunate to have received some excellent reviews and I have noticed that many customers who have read those reviews appear to feel more comfortable from the outset.”

While some retailers are enjoying the upside of delivering greater transparency with consumer reviews there is a way to go as the automotive sector is underperforming compared to some other retail sectors when it comes to trust and transparency.

While some retailers may be concerned about carrying customer reviews about their business, Auto Trader is enabling dealers the chance to respond to any review left by their customers. A right to reply means they can thank a customer for a positive review or provide a chance to actively engage with a negative one – something that consumers value.

Auto Trader’s Digital Excellence Index*** compared how automotive websites performed next to nine other retail sectors including finance, property and transport. The Index was based on the responses of 8,000 consumers conducting 32,000 reviews across 10 different retail sectors and the results placed the automotive sector in seventh place. That was behind the top performers of retail (such as ASOS) and home (eg: Amazon).

When the automotive sector is broken down into manufacturers, franchised dealers and supermarket groups there is a marked difference between them. Manufacturers ranked fourth, franchise came ninth and supermarket was in last position compared to the nine other sectors.

An analysis of the consumers’ responses revealed that one of the key elements of a website that helps deliver transparency and help build trust is how easy consumers believe it will be to deal with the organization, something that consumer reviews really help with.

Of the 8,000 consumers that were asked ‘How trustworthy this organisation feels from its website’, 31% of respondents replied positively about manufacturers’ websites, only 20% felt the same about supermarkets and 24% felt it was a trustworthy site when it came to supermarkets.

Nick King continues: “Transparency is everywhere and consumers expect it. Creating trust is paramount, however, because if a consumer senses you are a retailer they might be able to trust, it gives them the confidence that you’ll do what they expect you to do and increases the chances they will buy from you.”

Bob Merrell, Manor Garages adds: “Unfortunately, the motor trade doesn’t have the best of reputations and we need to dispel that myth now. A number of people have said that they do feel comfortable dealing with Manor because they have read what other customers have said about their positive experience with us.”

Auto Trader is encouraging retailers to take up its free dealer reviews service and is providing a host of free advice and help. Top tips include maximising conversion rates of a buyer leaving a review by ensuring they don’t wait longer than a week after purchase to send out a request, send requests after 6pm and preferably on a Sunday, and utilise the right to reply to respond to consumer reviews. Responding positively to a negative review helps build advocacy and drives customer loyalty, and the addition of negative reviews is seen as more authentic by consumers and actually helps drive sales.

*About the Auto Trader Annual Car Buying Research:

The Auto Trader Annual Car Buying Research was based on interviews with 2000 car buyers who had purchased a car within the last six months. Car buyers from the online sample were managed with quotas to provide a nationally representative sample and no private buyers were included. The research was commissioned by Auto Trader and conducted independently by global market research agency GfK.

Of those asked ‘Why did you end up purchasing your vehicle from this dealer?’, 15% of all respondents indicated ‘Read Reviews of Dealer’ and 15% indicated ‘Recommended by Family/Friends’, creating a total of 30% of all car buyers. The figure of 2.1 million cars sold is based on 30% of the total 7.2 million used cars sold in 2014 according to the 25th Edition of the BCA Used Car Market Report.

**Analysis of Auto Trader data:

The difference between dealer profile pages that carried consumer reviews and those dealer profile pages that didn’t was based on an analysis of Auto Trader’s warehouse data and Google Analytics for the period of May 2016 – June May 2016.


***About the Auto Trader Digital Excellence Index:

The Auto Trader Digital Excellence Index was based on 8000 consumers doing 32,000 reviews of a total of 50 websites from 10 different retail sectors. These sectors included property, mobile, travel agents, finance, holiday accommodation, retail, transport, home, broadband & telecommunication and automotive. Consumers were asked to measure the home page, trust & transparency, their sentiment towards the site and provide an overall rating.

About Auto Trader:

Auto Trader Group plc is the UK and Ireland’s largest digital automotive marketplace. Auto Trader sits at the heart of the UK’s vehicle buying process and its primary activity is to help vehicle retailers compete effectively on the marketplace in order to sell more vehicles, faster. Auto Trader listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2015 and is now a member of the FTSE 250 Index.

The marketplace brings together the largest and most engaged consumer audience. Auto Trader has over 90% prompted brand awareness and attracted 59 million monthly cross platform visits in March 2016, with circa 70% of visits coming through mobile devices. More than 80% of all time spent on automotive classified sites is spent on Auto Trader.

The marketplace also has the largest pool of vehicle sellers (listing more than 420,000 cars each day). Over 80% of UK automotive retailers advertise on and around 80% of all used cars sold through the motor trade appear on the site.

For all trade media enquiries, please contact:

Kieren Puffett – PR Director, JJ Marketing


Mobile: 07753 830870, Telephone: 01865 343100

Auto Trader Group plc
Registered in England (Company number: 09439967)

Auto Trader Limited
Registered in England and Wales (Company number: 03909628)

Registered address:

1 Tony Wilson Place
M15 4FN
VAT number: GB 614 8918 20

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