Online car researchers still want dealers' input

Car buyers who research their purchases online still rely on dealers to advise them on the final decision, according to a new report.

Although the vast majority of buyers (97 per cent) said they thoroughly researched the car they wanted online before making the trip to a dealership, almost seven out of 10 ask the dealer for advice and are willing to consider other options when they have spoken to a professional.

The study, by comparison website Carkeys.co.uk found that independent, professional reviews were most likely to influence their decision.

The dealership experience is important to customers, and dealers should be prepared to meet the needs of their clients. In addition to being well-informed about your stock, you should also have good demonstration insurance cover to provide a decent test drive, as well as your general motor trade insurance policy.

The Carkeys survey, which quizzed 1,000 car buyers, found that six out of 10 spent around eight hours researching vehicles, while 40 per cent were willing to devote around four months checking out vehicles online before making a decision.

Carkeys’ Chris Smith told Car Dealer magazine that dealers should take advantage of the lengthy search period to make offers to potential customers to help them convert interest into sales.

He said: “The wealth of online information means that car buyers are arriving at dealerships much more informed about what their requirements are.

“Dealers are able to use this period of online research, which we know typically spans over four months, to begin a conversation with the customer and widen their window of opportunity to sell.”

As well as professional advice offered by dealers, the survey found that buyers also took editorial reviews and branded content into account when making their final decisions. Most preferred to visit a dealership in a 50 mile radius of their home, but the biggest driver in the final purchase was the price and the deals they were offered.