More car buyers are using online tools to inform their purchases

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 21 April 2015
More car buyers are using online tools to inform their purchases

A new survey from Accenture indicates that 75% of drivers would consider conducting their entire car-buying process online.

The survey also found that the majority of consumers are conducting research online before visiting a car dealership when making their buying decisions.

10,000 consumers were surveyed in eight major nations from across the globe, with 80% saying they were using some form of digital technology to research their buying preferences before purchasing a new vehicle.

62% said they are initiating the car-buying process online before entering a dealership. This includes consulting social media channels.

69% of those surveyed said they had either bought a car online or would consider doing so, and many respondents indicated they would be willing to use new, emerging channels for purchases. 

The results of the survey highlight the growing need for automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers to increase their focus on online engagement, with more than 50% of those surveyed saying they’d like to see improvements within the industry when it comes to online channels.

Specific areas for improvements highlighted by respondents included tailored information, virtual demonstrations and more comparison shopping sites. 

Improvements could also be made within the dealership, with 53% of respondents indicating they would be interested in access to an interactive touch display that gives information on available car models, while 48% said they would like to take virtual test drives at the dealership.

“The impact of the digital customer is becoming pervasive, disrupting the traditional car-buying experience and the competitive landscape,” said Christina Raab, global managing director for Digital Consumer Services in Accenture’s Automotive practice. “This is clearly supported by the fact that many would consider conducting the entire car-buying process online. In order to grow business in this environment, OEMs and dealers will need to pursue an aggressive digital strategy online, in the showroom and in aftersales, while creating a seamless, integrated experience to accommodate all customer needs.”

There were however significant fluctuations between approaches to car purchasing in different nations. For example, 92% of respondents in China said they had already or were interested in purchasing a car online, while 80% of those surveyed in Japan said they would not use such an option.

Drivers in India are most influenced by car website and online publications, while more drivers in Italy are influenced by a visit to a dealership than anything else.

“Whether in China, Germany or the U.S., using online processes to a greater extent for car-buying is becoming the norm, not the exception,” added Raab. “OEMs and dealers that want to succeed in the future will need to adjust their business models to take advantage of the emerging digital reality that is transforming car-buying.”

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