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Are dealers prepared to facilitate online car sales?

With almost a third (32%) of car buyers saying they are comfortable purchasing a vehicle entirely online, retailers will need to start facilitating end-to-end internet vehicle sales.

Whilst the findings from CitNOW’s latest report Evolution of the Car-Buyer 2019, illustrate the on-going importance of the physical showroom, it also highlighted the need for retailers to cater for a significant proportion of digitally confident consumers.

High-quality digital assets like images and video are already crucial in encouraging would-be car-buyers to take the next step.  Forging a relationship with the business and individual sales executives prior to an on-site visit, will become even more important for those who wish to purchase entirely online.

Already, two-thirds (66%) of drivers feel it’s important to see high-quality interior and exterior imagery of their purchase, while 35% feel it’s important to see a video, according to the research.
Meanwhile, further underlining the power of video, other research shows that 87% of car buyers who watch an online video will perform a follow up action[source: Kantar TNS / Google, Auto CB 2018] with the most likely being a visit to a dealership.

What about those who don’t want to visit your showroom? Car buyers who are happy transacting in the virtual showroom shouldn’t be ignored.

Since the share of internet purchases has tripled in the UK over the past decade, according to the Office for National Statistics, today one in every five purchases are made online.  It’s not surprising more consumers would be willing to shift the entire vehicle purchase process online.


Online trends are already apparent, for example, ŠKODA has introduced virtual showrooms enabling potential buyers to interact with product experts via video technology, whilst some Tesla buyers are already undertaking their entire purchase journey online.

Those who are most likely to consider buying online, according to CitNOW’s research, are 35-44 year olds (43%) with 18-24 year olds and over 55s least likely (26%), which may seem surprising but perhaps reflects the negotiation, buying and digital confidence of those in their mid-30s to mid-40s.

The next generation of car buyers are likely to be using smartphones for vehicle research at an even higher rate than today.   Investing in technology that delivers a mobile first strategy for competing and providing good customer satisfaction, is becoming a business critical element.

Mobile first is, not surprisingly, more apparent among the younger 18-24 age group, even though they are least likely to buy online, with almost 75% using their smartphone to research their vehicle. As this generation ages, smartphone research will increase although currently laptops are the most popular device for research purposes with smartphones in second place.
It means technology platforms will need to support a mobile first approach, ensuring easy, logical navigation and allowing digital media assets to be seamlessly created and integrated whether customers eventually decide to pay a visit to the business or to complete the entire journey online.

CitNOW’s ‘Evolution of the Car Buyer’ report examines how car-buying habits could change; it can be viewed and downloaded by visiting HERE.