A recent Cox Automotive Study of more than two thousand auto-shoppers found that car shoppers are heavily invested in online shopping and online comparative research during the car buying process.1 Nine out of ten participants would be more likely to buy from a dealership offering at least one component of digital retailing that connected the online and offline car-buying process.
This has implications for service as well as sales. Over half of consumers said they would be more likely to schedule service at a dealership with online scheduling, and updates on service via text were particularly important for younger car-owners.
A digital presence that allows car shoppers to do research online is important for making a sale. A McKinsey study found that average new car buyers only visit 1.6 dealerships before making a purchase, compared to an average of five dealerships visited in 2005.2 By contrast, an found that 86% of shoppers researched a vehicle online before they ever visit a dealership.3
Despite this, Cox’s study reinforced that dealerships are still essential to completing a sale. 86% of consumers said they wanted to sign final documents in person at the dealership, and eight out of ten participants reported that they would never purchase a vehicle without test-driving it. Plus, Google research found that 95% of car purchases still happen at the dealership.4
Online comparison tools, effective VDP pages, and full-featured data products are crucial to the online retailing process, and dealers need effective merchandising solutions and data more than ever, including effective media. Google research found that search interest for “pictures of [automotive brand]” has gone up 37% year-over-year. 80% of these searches are happening on mobile, and that prospects purchase from the first brand they search for just 22% of the time.5
A digitally connected retail experience that harmonizes online research and model builds brand loyalty and engagement, guiding shoppers through a changing sales landscape towards a purchase.