Swing to buying online accelerating, iVendi research shows

By Staff
5 Min Read

Car buyers are more likely to buy their next vehicle almost entirely online, new research from iVendi suggests.

It shows that 74% expect to use some sort of online process to buy their next car – either buying online and collecting the car in person from a dealership (45%) or buying online with home delivery (29%).

Only a quarter said they would prefer to buy their next car vehicle in person from the retailer.

The findings are taken from a new iVendi white paper, Driving future success: Five key trends in online motor retail, which questioned 1,000 recent car buyers about their preferences and is being released this week.

James Tew, CEO at iVendi, said: “Most people in motor retail now tend to view it as a market where the showroom and online channels exist side-by-side as a hybrid, with the vast majority of consumers moving between the two at will as part of quite complex buying journeys.

“What our research shows is that this may be less the case going forward, and there could be a relatively rapid swing underway towards increasingly digital sales. In our view, consumer journeys will retain a strong hybrid element but the situation we have seen in recent years where showroom and online split roughly equally could change quite rapidly with a substantial swing towards the latter.

“This clearly has implications for vehicle retailers, motor finance companies and anyone else involved in the process of selling cars. Their online processes need to be upgraded to ensure they meet the expectations of these buyers.”

The research showed that the age of respondents had an impact on these buying preferences. Older consumers are the most likely to favour buying physically at a dealership, with 34% of over 45s naming it as their preferred method, compared to 23% of 31–44-year-olds, and 21% of those under 30. 

However, perhaps surprisingly, preferences for fully digital purchases – with home delivery and no interaction with a physical dealership whatsoever – were very consistent across all age groups at either 27% or 28%.

The ‘click and collect’ method – transacting online, then collecting the vehicle from the retailer – was not only the single most popular method but also the one with the most progressive trend among the age groups. It was favoured by 37% of over 45s, 47% of 31-44-year-olds and 51% of those under 30. There was also a strong preference for click and collect among female respondents, 47% of whom expect to buy their next car this way.

Tew said: “Breaking down the findings by age are important because they show the likely future direction of travel for car buying and again, online looks as though it is going to become much more dominant.”

iVendi’s research found that car buyers are simply happier with digital sales processes. When asked if online transactions met consumers’ expectations compared with other purchases, 75% said yes, in contrast to 61% for showroom sales, and 47% for transactions conducted over the phone.   

Respondents were also asked how often they went online to progress their car buying journey compared with calling or visiting the showroom.

Online was easily the most frequent, with 34% of respondents saying they moved their purchase forward through this route at least daily. Only half as many, 17%, called the retailer as often, and just 13% physically visited a showroom the equivalent number of times.

When asked what motivated them to enquire online, 60% of respondents said convenience, 51% ease of enquiry, and 42% to find information.

Tew said: “Online buying appears to fit more neatly into consumers’ lives and increases the frequency with which they interact with the sales process. Buyers just find digital easier and it is essential that retailers move to meet this trend.”

The “Driving future success: Five key trends in online motor retail” white paper can be downloaded for free at ivendi.com/whitepaper.

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