‘Increasing use of mobiles is making haggling a thing of the past’

Time 9:05 am, February 25, 2016

ALMOST a quarter of ‘millennials’ – the name given to people up to the age of about 34 – claim to have used a mobile phone to price-check cars they see on a forecourt with similar models online, according to Auto Trader.

And 66 per cent of all UK car buyers say they would consider doing so in the future, the organisation says in its February 2016 Market Report.

Eighty per cent of car buyers using a mobile device on a forecourt use it for checking prices – which is alleviating anxieties about not getting a fair deal or simply paying too much.

In response to this, dealers are becoming more competitive with pricing, acknowledging that prices are now more transparent and easily comparable – not only within their geographical area – but against the entire online UK car market.

CarShop, one of the UK’s largest car supermarkets, has developed a team of pricing analysts to monitor the market daily, and make adjustments accordingly – but it also encourages consumers to do online research in its stores.

Leo Nelson, marketing director of CarShop, said: ‘The key success of this strategy has come in the form of communication and transparency; and as a result, we have seen a reduction in the number of people expecting to be able to haggle over price, or ask for a discount.

‘We are aware that customers have access to information, and are not afraid to use it. But because we believe in our product and pricing, we have implemented customer wifi in our stores to help customers reaffirm that haggling is not necessary, and alleviate any concerns.’


For most consumers however, the perception of uncomfortable experiences with car-buying is far worse than the reality. Thirty three per cent of consumers claimed that their perception of negotiating on price with a car dealer would be unpleasant – yet just 17 per cent claimed to have had an uncomfortable haggling experience in the past.

Coe continued: ‘There’s a clear need for dealers to operate as digital retailers to adapt to these changes, and some already have by adopting digital strategies to run their business.

‘Today’s car buyer will not be forced to do more work if they’re not offered the tools to make life easier. Our research revealed that 81 per cent of car sellers are more inclined to visit a dealership if they are offered an online part-exchange guide price on their car in advance. It’s another example of consumers demanding more online services, which take the stress out of the negotiation.

‘The pace of digital change is speeding up and there’s more to come. It’s more important than ever that the industry evolves at a pace that meets these demands.’

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Dave Brown's avatar

Dave, production editor on Car Dealer Magazine, is a journalist with more than 30 years' experience in the worlds of newspapers, magazines and public relations.

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