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Technology has made online shopping something of a doddle. Go online, choose what you want and a few clicks later the item’s on your doorstep (usually in a box big enough to house the family pet) the following day. For smaller purchases, that’s fine.

But when it comes to searching for, and buying, a car online, the process is less simple. That’s because there are many more variables at play. It’s the second-biggest purchase a person’s likely to make in their life, for one thing, so it’s expensive and requires much thought. There’s also the fact that a lot of emotional investment is put into car purchasing, much more than say an electronic male grooming kit.

Also, according to Cox Automotive’s Digital Retail Report, used car buyers are demanding when pondering their next four-wheel purchase, both when it comes to the tools they want on a website and the way they can search available stock. Almost two-thirds expect to get a part-ex valuation and for nearly half of those asked, video has become something of a must on a retailer’s website.

So, with this in mind, are dealers able to meet customer needs when it comes to digital retail? It turns out they are doing a pretty good job, according to the report.

Functionality is where it’s at

Website functionality is one area in which retailers are exceeding. When it comes to offering a video walkaround of stock, quality photos, ability to reserve a car, part-ex valuation, a finance calculator and live chat, among other things, dealers score highly compared to consumer expectations of seeing such extras on a site.

Since nearly half (47%) of respondents say demand for online services and resources has ramped up over the past year, it clearly pays to have much of the aforementioned functionality on your site. Indeed, the report says, where website functionality is concerned, independents are a little way behind their franchised counterparts in several ways, but it’s just in video where they need to cat up with consumer expectations.

A slick part-ex process is key

When you consider that around half of new or used car transactions involve a part-ex, and that a third of potential deals fail due to a disagreement over value – having a polished part-ex process as part of your website appears to be a must.

The report reveals that 63% of consumers expect exactly that and as mentioned above, most retailers are meeting that need. What’s more, 84% of consumers will provide additional information to get a more accurate valuation, which is important when you consider how part-ex can be a great source of stock.

However, a closer examination of the report shows us that independents are lagging behind their franchised equivalents. Just 73% of independents can provide an online evaluation, compared to 88% of franchised. Having said that, it’s encouraging to see that 70% of car dealers can connect their digital and physical part-ex process. On the flip side, 15% of that 70% who say they can bridge the gap between the on and offline part-ex process haven’t yet done it.

Rising demand

As in all areas of consumer retail, more and more potential customers are engaging with online channels, tools and resources as part of their car-buying journey.

The report says that more than a quarter of vehicle retailers admit that between 90 and 100% of their sales involve at least one online interaction. Franchised dealers say every single one of their sales has at least one online aspect to it. With that increasing demand, comes an expectation that the experience will be “simple and joined up”. That’s according to 94% of consumers who took part in the report.

The demand is there, but if you’re a retailer can you say that your website is meeting that demand?

Modix can help you build the high-performing automotive website you need to attract customers.

Do you know…

what consumers are searching for? Since most car purchases begin with a simple online search, online retailers need to maximize their chances of being found by a buyer in the consideration stage of their journey. Let’s take a look at the latest and most popular consumer search trends of 2023 so far.