Franchised dealers knock online-only used car retailers into touch when it comes to trust

  • What Car? survey finds 94 per cent of in-market buyers sees franchised dealers as most trustworthy
  • Only a fifth were very or fairly confident about online-only sector but confidence grew with brand awareness
  • Cash is still king for most when it comes to buying a used car

Time 3 weeks ago

Franchised car dealers who have physical premises are way ahead of online-only retailers in the popularity stakes when it comes to used car buyers.

That’s according to What Car?, whose latest research revealed that a whopping 94 per cent of in-market buyers were very or fairly confident about buying their next used car from a franchised dealer with a bricks-and-mortar site.

Only a fifth were very or fairly confident about using an online-only retailer, though, despite ‘reasonable awareness’ of the sector’s ‘big three’: Cazoo, Cinch and Carzam.

But more than half – 54.6 per cent – had heard of at least one of them, with confidence rising to 56 per cent with brand recognition.

Age didn’t play a significant role in determining that level of trust, either, with 17-to-34-year-olds and buyers who were 55 and over having similar levels of confidence.

Second most popular in the poll of 1,571 people was car supermarkets at 63 per cent, with 55 per cent saying they were happy to put their trust in independent dealers.

According to the SMMT, more than 6.7m used cars were sold in the UK in 2020, and the survey also showed cash remained king when it came to buying a used car for nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of buyers.


Thirteen per cent said they expected they would take out a personal bank loan, while just over a tenth (11 per cent) were looking to lease or finance their next used purchase.

Meanwhile, nearly a quarter – 24 per cent – of used buyers said they were expecting to get a car in the next four weeks, while a third were set to buy within one to three months.

More than half – 53.2 per cent – are set to spend between £5,000 and £15,000 on their next used car, with seven per cent looking to spend in excess of £30,000.

What Car? managing director Rachael Prasher said: ‘Online-only retailers have made lots of headlines in recent weeks, and represent a new avenue for the industry to expand.

‘However, our research suggests that brand awareness is critical to consumers trusting in their services, and that even the biggest players in the sector have a lot more work to do on that.

‘For now – and potentially the foreseeable future – the majority of used car buyers are telling us that they still prefer to purchase their next car from a dealer with a physical presence rather than purely online.’

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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