I recently read a report commissioned for Facebook Business by Dynata.  They spoke with consumers that either bought within the last 12 months or intend to buy within the next 12 months. 

I have pulled some of the key findings that I found interesting. 

As we have known for years, buying a car often starts online but did not finish online. Covid-19 has accelerated the opportunity for most to stay online longer or to complete the purchase. The report suggests 60% of buyers believe buying a car online is realistic.

I think the key thing I pull from this report is that a complete transaction online is desirable but for most there are lots of elements that a blended approach is the ideal solution. There is still power in bricks and clicks.

Death of the sales person?

Thankfully the role of the salesperson is still very important but the last year has proved it does not need to happen face to face.

  • 83% had some sort of help making a decision buying their car
  • 46% told us the sales person helped them select features
  • 43% got help choosing the make and model
  • 34% needed help with the finance

Negotiating

I have mixed view on this section of the report, negotiating.  It finds that negotiating is still key to the purchasing process and 43% of car buyers enjoy it.  For me it highlights that 57% do not enjoy it.  Perhaps providing the 43% know the deal they are getting is fair then maybe they would admit they would prefer not negotiate.

31% to 47% of consumers would prefer to negotiate remotely so do not be offended by low ball offers from a distant lead.  It is a starting point and some well worded replies can win the sale.

Over the last year or so, certainly for used vehicles, prices have become more fixed.  This has been caused by shortage of stock and price indicators on platforms like Autotrader.  This has made it easier for consumers to know they are not paying too much.  For new vehicle sales, it is a bit more challenging because of OEM sales programs and individual dealership targets.  This is a challenge OEM’s are having to address to either sell directly or online through their dealers.  Often their online offering is just not competitive.  In theory it should be easier to complete an online purchase for a new car than a used but it is currently harder.   

Test driving

Test driving is another interesting one.  78% of consumers say test driving is vital to the purchase and 30% are happy to do it from home.  What the report does not go into is if these consumers would be happy with an offering such as Cazoo, Carzam or Cinch which allows them to buy and return in 7 and 14 days if they are not happy.  I think there is still a place for the traditional test drive but the key is to make it easy to book online at a time and location to suit them.  This is easier than committing to buying and to go through all the paperwork to then return the vehicle and start again. 

And finally

The good news is the dealerships still have a place, the sales person is not dead BUT perhaps the way we operated even just a year ago is.  A blended approach is needed. 

  • Easy to use and informative website.
  • Ability to jump onto chat or video conversation with a sales person.
  • Book appointments/test drives easily online..
  • Confidence the prices are fair.
  • Dealership personality felt online.
  • Ability to complete the purchase online.

It has been pleasing to see the staggering results some of our vAutoStock clients have had during lockdown.  What is clear is they have all adapted quickly and have the blended approach similar to the above. 

To read the full Facebook report click here