WE’LL BE BUYING CARS LIKE WE ORDER OUR GROCERIES WITHIN A DECADE
Car retailers will adopt a grocery retail shopping model over the next few years, with Brits researching and buying their cars almost entirely online.
That’s according to Auto Trader, the UK’s largest automotive marketplace for new and used cars. Within a decade, motorists will be able to buy a car as easily as doing their weekly food shop, ordering with just a few clicks of a button.
Like Waitrose, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer, dealerships will still operate physical locations, but they will no longer be used primarily as showrooms or to complete the sales process. Instead, retailers will adopt an Ocado-style retail model, giving shoppers multiple ways to buy their car.
Auto Trader spoke to 2,000 UK motorists about their car buying habits for its latest Market Report, The Future of Car Retailing, published today.
45% of car buyers say that if they were buying a car on finance, they would be happy to do the whole thing online. This rises to nearly two-thirds (64%) of Millennials and Gen Zs - 18 to 34-year olds.
In the past, car buyers typically visited five retailers; these days that has reduced to two, but Auto Trader thinks the direction of travel is clear and in the future many cars will be bought without any visits at all.
“The car buying process is frustrating and confusing,” said Nathan Coe, CEO designate of Auto Trader. “There are as many as 28 tasks that buyers need to complete before they get the keys to their new car. A lot of people stop part way through the process while others end up reaching a point of fatigue and buy cars that aren’t right for them.”
In fact, Auto Trader’s research reveals an astonishing 85% of motorists don’t think the car they purchased was their perfect car. The ‘smoke and mirrors’ around pricing confuses buyers; 75% think it’s difficult to work out the final price according to the research conducted for the Report.
“Buying a car may never be the quickest process,” said Nathan Coe, “but technology can improve the process enormously, making it simpler, more intuitive and more transparent.”
A small number of retailers have grasped the digital nettle, not just in the way they market and sell cars but in every aspect of their business including buying and pricing vehicles, and the end-to-end transaction. However, most retailers currently only offer the initial vehicle selection online.
“Dealerships certainly won’t disappear, but they will evolve. Some will become brand experience destinations which give customers an interactive adventure. Others will be specialist logistics and service centres, or high street ‘stores’ where car buyers can ask questions or touch and feel the car they’re interested in.
“Car buying in the future should be more enjoyable, as it will be faster, more transparent and give buyers the choice to shop the way they want - just like when they buy anything else.”
Online sales of cars are expected to pass one million next year, and they will grow to six million globally by 2025 according to a recent Report from Frost and Sullivan. In 2018, the Report said 618,000 cars were sold online, nearly double the number sold digitally in 2017.
 Auto Trader Research September 2019
 Frost & Sullivan Report Global Vehicle OEMs’ New Online Retail Strategies, Forecast to 2025