The Future of Car Buying by the Numbers

by Lindsey - Posted 3 years ago

What car buyers are looking for now, and how the future of car shopping will change in a post-pandemic world.

According to recent research aggregated by Google, who is shopping for cars and they way people are buying cars is changing swiftly. Here are some of the stats, and what that can mean for your auto dealership.

80% Year-over-year increase in search phrases including “Best car under”

Car buyers spend time researching the best car for them. Is your dealership answer these questions through your website? Great content and a website search optimized for your local area is more important than ever as more people turn to the Internet to start AND complete their car buying decisions. 

Our website products AutoSTRADA places our client websites on the first page of Google for local search terms. And we can do the same for your website. 

77% of US consumers see commuting by public transit as risky.

As trust in public transit declines, more people becoming car owners.

New consumers are looking at buying a car, and they have new expectations and car shopping behaviors. Most new car buyers consider more than 3 different types of vehicles. Other buyers consider less than 2, and spend less time researching.

What does that mean for your dealership? A robust website with easily searchable inventory is crucial in appealing to new car shoppers who want to get a feel for what is out there. And it also means ranking in search for more terms or long-tail keywords is important.

With AutoSTRADA, each page containing your inventory ranks in search results, so potential car shoppers can easily find what you have to offer.

2018: 1 in 100 cars were sold online.
2020: 1 in 10 cars sold in the first half of 2020 were sold online.

The percentage of cars sold online increased 10X in just 2 years. That is a huge shift towards virtual car buying. Your auto dealership needs to be offering virtual buying and delivery options. If you're not doing it, you can bet your competition IS.

VirtualDEALER is the latest product we're offering to our clients. This includes an easy-to-use, step-by-step process that takes your customers from easily finding the perfect car, to getting preapproved and optionally trading-in, to completing the purchase process and selecting to accept delivery. Your sales team can easily communicate through the VirtualDEALER dashboard with customers to help them through the process, and securely access needed documents through a two-step validation process.

73% of auto shoppers say they are comfortable negotiating terms online.

Instant chat and messaging options make it easy for your customers to talk with you about the purchase while going through the process online.

65% of car buyers expect more online options for purchasing a vehicle.

Give your customers what they want before your competition does! 

Only 24% of shoppers were offered an at-home test drive, but 98% of those who were found it helpful in making a decision.

Consider going the extra step for your customers and adding the option to bring the test drive to them. This is particularly important for new car buyers that may not be sure of what vehicle they are interested in buying. 

Key takeaways from these numbers:

1) More people are buying cars.

The demographic of car buyers is growing as the pandemic makes people more nervous about using public transit. This means your auto dealership has even greater opportunities to attract these new car buyers by offering helpful content online.

2) New car buyers are open to more options that fit their lifestyle and interests.

By tailoring your advertising to new and current car owners, you can better target them. Address concerns and barriers to purchasing, while at the time appealing to their interests and needs.

3) More people than ever are researching cars online.

You need a search optimized website that offers helpful content and can respond to inquiries immediately. Consumers expect safe, virtual shopping experiences that also offer immediate assistance through virtual chat, texting, or phone.

Make your website full of information, relevant to local searches, and accessible for everyone.

4) Car shoppers expect online buying options.

It isn’t just enough to offer a great web research experience. Consumers now expect to be able to buy a car online in the same way they would purchase a new coat or couch. They want to be able to imagine themselves in the car through interactive images, and have options like at-home test drives. 

Create a safe, immersive online buying experience to meet the expectations of today’s car buyers.

5) Car buyers are willing to negotiate an entire sale online.

You need an online buying process that is simple, efficient, and gives the car buyer the opportunity to talk with your sales people, trade-in their vehicle, get pre-approved, and work through all the details of a car purchase entirely online, at their convenience.

But when it comes time to purchase the car, they’re still spending an average of 2 hours and 46 minutes at the dealership, according to a Cox Automotive study. Most of that time is spent filling out paperwork and dealing with financing. And the longer they spend, according to the report, the more satisfaction declines.

A virtual buying option lets customers begin the buying process online, and pick up and finish it when it is convenient for them. Your customers will appreciate the comfort and safety of buying online.

6) Virtual buying and delivery options are expected, and this trend is here to stay.

Virtual car buying jumped from 1% to 10% in only two years. Accelerated by the pandemic, as consumers grow increasingly comfortable with making big purchases online, this trend will continue to grow.

You need a virtual buying solution that checks all these boxes now, or you’ll risk losing customers.

Talk to us today about Virtual Dealer to get your auto dealership started with online buying. It is safe, secure, and built with your auto buyers in mind.

Give your customers what they want – Get VirtualDealer today as part of your high performance auto marketing website.