A recent Car Buyer Journey study has found that 88% of all car buyers have used the Internet when vehicle shopping. The study, commissioned by Autotrader and administered by IHS Automotive, has uncovered valuable information on car buyers that can be used to better understand their behavior when they reach the dealership. Aspects of the car shopping process that were examined include third-party websites, dealership experience, and mobile devices.

Third-Party Websites

Car Shopping Sites

Car Buyer Journey has found that 78% of all online car shoppers have used a third-party website such as Kelley Blue Book. Of the 78% that use third-party websites, 73%, in particular, have used Autotrader or Kelley Blue Book. Car shoppers are actively looking at vehicles on their own and are researching to see what each car is valued at.

These third-party websites are extremely important, as 71% of consumers ultimately purchase the vehicle that they had wanted before visiting the dealership. Jared Rowe, the president of Cox Automotive Group, confirmed the importance of these findings by stating that "dealers have less than a 30% chance of changing a purchase decision once a customer is on the lot."

Dealership Experience

When car buyers have performed online research, data shows that they test drive less vehicles and visit fewer dealerships. This type of buyer only test drives one vehicle 52% of the time and visits one dealership 46% of the time. Online buyers are often more knowledgeable about the dealership’s inventory and typically have a strong idea of what they want before walking in the door.

Car buyers often become frustrated at dealerships when they have to fill out paperwork and negotiate prices or contracts. These two steps amount to 55% of the time individuals spend at dealerships. Additionally, car buyer satisfaction levels dropped significantly when they had to interact with four or more people during the purchasing process.

Smartphones and Mobile Devices

Smartphones and other mobile devices are becoming more popular as time progresses. Car buyers are using this technology to compare prices between dealerships, find prices at the particular dealership that they are visiting, compare inventory at other dealerships, check which cars are available at the dealer that they are currently visiting and research trade-in pricing.

While these devices are being used in multiple ways, each action is an important step in the car buying process. The data that was gathered by the Car Buyer Journey study confirms that car buyers are actively using this technology and that car dealerships would benefit from being aware of this.

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