Press release

Mobile usage now integral in car buying journey

Eight times as many consumers use Smartphones for car buying research than three years ago.

  • On average, consumers use at least two devices during their research stage
  • Smartphones used at dealerships for price, finance and specification comparisons

In the last year, a third of all online consumer interactions with new and used car content across manufacturer and automotive websites were made using a smart phone, compared to three years ago where only five per cent used their smart phone to research a car purchase. As of last month, this figure has risen again to 41%, an increase of over eight times as many, showing that mobile was important three years ago, but it has now become an essential platform within the car buying journey.

The use of devices as part of the car buying journey has dramatically increased over the last few years, as consumers have access to vast amounts of information before setting foot in a dealership. 97% of all UK households now own a PC or laptop, 79% use a smartphone and 51% own a tablet, with a third of the population owning all three. The number of full page adverts on Auto Trader’s marketplace consumers now view on mobile devices have increased three fold since 2012.

A study undertaken by for Auto Trader, the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace, by Trinity McQueen collated a mixture of qualitative and quantitative data drawn from over one thousand car buyers. This data showed clear patterns in the type of device used at different stages of the car buying journey, with consumers on average using at least two devices during their research.

Auto Trader, Insight Director; Nick King said; “Smartphones are more likely than other devices to be used at forecourts for validation purposes. Buyers are increasingly drawn to their mobiles for timely answers to specific questions on areas like price and specifications, and to reassure themselves that the retailer is one they can trust. So the question of usability appears – is your site optimised for mobile? Is the content quickly accessible?  As our patience levels shorten, consumer expectations increase from other positive mobile experiences, and our device usage changes, it becomes increasingly clear that car buyers need to find the information you have available, quickly and easily.  When did you last check your mobile website? If your site isn’t mobile optimised, consumers won’t find your cars – it’s as simple as that.”

We commissioned this research to take a better look into the role of multiple devices in the car buying process. As we suspected, the study confirmed that online research is key for buyers, with walk-ins as the first point of contact between well-informed buyers and retailers in over half of all transactions. Consumer forecourt research broadly fell into four categories: questions about pricing, questions about stock, questions about finance and questions about the dealership itself.”

The research also revealed more insight into smartphone usage and that this tends to be far more targeted than research done using a PC or laptop. 27% of buyers are now using a smartphone for initial research, but this rises by the time a buyer has made a decision to visit retailer, so a mobile optimised website is key for retailers to ensure they advertise their stock in front of the largest possible audience.

The research suggest that laptops and PCs can be more suited to the research phase where buyers compare and contrast brands, models and vehicle types, as larger screens make it easier to compare large amounts of information, across multiple sites. Whereas, mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are better suited to seek out specific information during shorter sessions, such as when multitasking or inspired by external stimuli, multi-tasking and as the consumer moves closer to the purchase point.  

About Auto Trader:

Auto Trader Group plc is a 100% digital business having successfully completed the transition from a print title in 2013. Auto Trader sits at the heart of the UK’s vehicle buying process and operates the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace.

Auto Trader’s primary activity is to help vehicle retailers compete effectively on the Marketplace in order to sell more vehicles, faster. The Marketplace brings together the largest and most engaged consumer audience. Autotrader.co.uk attracts around 44.5 million monthly cross-platform visits on its sites, with around 68% of visits coming through mobile devices, with the largest pool of vehicle sellers (listing more than 400,000 cars each day). In fact over 80% of all time spent on classified sites is spent on Auto Trader. The Group does not buy or sell any vehicles itself.

Auto Trader has around 92% prompted brand awareness in the UK, with 80% of UK retailer forecourts advertising via the website and around 65% of UK used car transactions involving cars listed on autotrader.co.uk.

Auto Trader’s market-leading position enables it to generate and collect large amounts of data on the UK’s automotive marketplace and leverage it to create a suite of services that allow retailers to:

  • BUY – buy the right vehicles, at the right price
  • MARKET – market their brands and businesses effectively in the digital world
  • SELL- sell more vehicles through advertising on the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace
  • MANAGE – optimise their stock turn and vehicle margin.

For all trade media enquiries, please contact:

Laura Biss 07802 483971 laura.biss@jjmarketing.co.uk

Premium German marques dominated the saloon market last year, but which model was most popular on Auto Trader? Congratulations to @BMWUK_ because the brilliant 3 Series took the top spot 😎 https://t.co/PuqN3FML3Q
If you're a franchise or group dealer and would like to find out how you could save £31 per standard move, don't miss out on today's Motor Trade Delivery webinar at midday. Tune in here: https://t.co/LbG6ZnKCec https://t.co/gdCYbban9D
Are you a franchise or group dealership moving vehicles? On average, you can save £31 per standard move with our Motor Trade Delivery offering. Join our webinar tomorrow at midday to find out more. Register here: https://t.co/LbG6ZnKCec https://t.co/R89p5JhCew
With the Finance & Leasing Association announcing the consumer car finance market grew 1% in December, lets look at 2018's most searched for models on finance. Leading the top 5 is the iconic @UKVolkswagen #Golf https://t.co/DCRLNJNM9T
Huge congratulations to everyone at @swanswaygroup for Best Dealership, it's massively deserved. We're delighted to hear how impactful stocking new cars on Auto Trader has been for the business - the perfect example of digital best practice! 🍾 https://t.co/KKm9EYRcpI
Thank you to the @RMI_NFDA team for another excellent #DrivingDigital. Nathan Coe took to the stage this morning to discuss the key changes in the industry & Ian Plummer joined @NFDASueRobinson to share new car opportunities. Looking forward to next year already! https://t.co/kyWdWhiCNs
Don't miss Catherine Faiers on @BBCRadio4's #BriefingRoom at 8pm this evening. She joined the @FT's @Petercampbell1 & Ian Henry of AutoAnalysis to discuss what's on the horizon for the UK automotive industry. You can tune in live here https://t.co/OX7HO8bSLP https://t.co/ZfRrZGAqlO
Good morning! 15 mins to go before our first #ARNLive of 2019. Don't miss out on tips & helpful guidance on hitting your targets. Tune in here https://t.co/K7xuX0IA0p https://t.co/pSt9p565qP
According to today's new car registration figures for January, the market saw a -1.6% dip on last year. However, it's been a strong start for alternatively fuelled vehicles which recorded a +26.3% increase on January 18. You can read our response here: https://t.co/M5DJiNsIBx https://t.co/4MuGEhWiMZ

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
Manchester
M15 4FN
VAT number: GB 614 8918 20

Keep in touch

We use social media to speak to the UK’s largest car buying audience