71% of used car buyers visit a dealer’s website before making their purchase, according to the latest buyer behaviour survey1 for the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace, Auto Trader.
Based on interviews with 1,300 customers, it revealed a higher proportion of digital forecourt visits for car supermarket customers, at 78% and independents at 75%. Meanwhile, the proportion visiting a franchised website was slightly lower at 61%.
When asked what information they look for in a dealer website, most buyers focus on stock. 57% said they visited a website to check the range of stock, 41% to check availability of a car for sale and 53% to check prices. One in five looked for practical information like opening hours and contact details while location maps were sought by 13% of visitors.
“The internet has fundamentally changed the way cars are bought and sold. Consumers do most of their research online when looking for their next car and this includes visiting dealer’s websites”, says Auto Trader’s Market Research Director Nick King. Consumers don’t feel the need to contact dealers as much either, they will simply turn up on a forecourt knowing exactly what they want to buy.”
But the research also revealed that dealer websites are increasingly used to build trust in the company from which they wish to buy, as Nick King explained: “today around one in ten buyers actively look for customer testimonials on a dealer website. A similar proportion seek background information on the dealership itself, such as how long it has been in business.”
Building trust is an important factor in the success of family-owned business Chrome Motors, based in Macclesfield. Managing director Danny Towns said their brand success had been built on an understanding that the industry has changed, that customers have higher expectations and are better informed than they have ever been in the past.
Towns says: “I would say that between 30 – 50% of our customers use our website to help build trust in our business. When they arrive on our forecourt and we talk to them about testimonials, they often tell us they’ve already seen them on our website. I would estimate that about half of our customers research us solely online before visiting in person and I’m very comfortable with that.
“Our website isn’t perfect yet, but it reflects our track record in supporting local community projects and reputation for providing excellence in customer service. Customers like that. Today we are all looking for the John Lewis-type experience. We want to feel warm and comfortable about doing business with a company. Reviews, testimonials and support for community projects helps us achieve this.”
In the last year Chrome Motors have reported a leap in business, and Danny Towns says this has come particularly from those in the local community. From an average of 50 – 60 sales per month last year, the site is now retailing between 90 – 100 cars every month.
Companies like Chrome Motors are blazing a trail for the independent sector. Retailers in the franchise and car supermarket sectors will also have the opportunity to shine at this year’s Auto Trader Click Awards on 2 July 2015.
The award for Best Retailer Digital Customer Experience will assess areas like website design, content and functionality. The winner will be chosen from the perspective of the car buyer, through a combination of consumer research and an expert panel. For more visit: http://autotraderclickawards.co.uk
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