New Report Shows Dealerships Still Important To Car Buying Experience


A new report from Cox Automotive shows that while the current car dealership model does need to be tweaked, dealerships remain central to car buying.

The report, called the Future of Digital Retail Study, shows that while most consumers prefer completing at least one step of the car buying process online, most car buyers want to complete the transaction at a dealership.

The Cox Automotive study shows that 71 percent of consumers want to get accurate, detailed information on a particular deal online, while 83 percent of consumers want to complete at least one purchase activity online.

According to the study, prospective car buyers want to do the bulk of the legwork before they enter the dealership. They want to agree on an accurate price that does not change later in the process, understand and select add-ons and warranties, agree on a trade-in value and other costs ahead of time, and then complete the sale in a dealership.

Per the study, the average buyer spends three hours at the dealership during the purchasing process, with half of that time spent negotiating final details. Consumer satisfaction with the amount of time spent in the dealership is dropping, from 55 percent in 2016 to 46 percent in 2018.

However, consumers still say the dealership is important when it comes to buying a car. Nearly nine of 10 respondents say they want to complete their purchase at the dealership, with only 11 percent saying they want to review paperwork online. However, Cox Automotive research shows there is a growing percentage of people who are interested in completing the entire purchase online.

Eight of 10 consumers say they would never purchase a car without test driving it first, and seven in 10 would never purchase a car without physically seeing it first. Both activities are traditionally done at a dealership.

This study indicates that while most consumers want to do some of the work involved in buying a car online, the majority still find value in the dealership model.

“The results of our study show that the most successful dealers are the ones who offer a connected in-store and online experience, where consumers start car-buying activates online and seamlessly finish them at the dealership,” says Mike Burgiss, vice president of digital retailing at Cox Automotive. “Importantly, a more efficient process is not only better for consumers, it’s better for dealers as well.”

For more information on Cox Automotive’s Future of Digital Retail Study, click here.

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