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More than two thirds of car buyers want to visit a car dealership rather than buy online – YouGov poll

Time 3 months ago

More than two thirds of car buyers would prefer to visit a car dealership in person rather than buying online.

A YouGov survey of 1,873 drivers by The Motor Ombudsman found that 62 per cent of buyers were put off buying their cars online.

The lack of test drives, needing to rely on photos and reports rather than seeing a car in person as well as having to do more research were the main reasons putting customers off.

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The survey findings will give dealers hope that when they are allowed to open customers will flock back to showrooms. 

Despite car dealers operating via click and collect only, there are a large number of buyers put off by not being able to take a test drive.

The Motor Ombudsman’s Bill Fennell said: ‘Our research has shown that, despite online shopping becoming an even more talked-about phenomenon during the pandemic, visiting a showroom in person, and seeing and trying the vehicle for themselves, is the overriding preference for the majority of drivers if they were to buy a new or used car this year. 

‘A completely digital purchase process from beginning to end is clearly proving to be too big a step for most, but what our research has highlighted, is that there is demand in the vehicle sales sector from motorists for a more physical and tangible experience, as well as for one that is purely virtual from start to finish. 

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‘This means that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach if the needs of consumers are to be successfully catered for by retailers when selling cars in 2021 and beyond.’

Online sales have accelerated during the pandemic with dealers only able to operate remotely during lockdowns.

Dealers have reported a growing acceptance of online car sales while online only used car dealerships like Cazoo and Carzam have bought increased attention to the solution.

Car Dealer tried out buying a car online from Carzam for a special video feature, which you can watch above.

In The Motor Ombudsman survey, respondents said not being able to have a test drive was the major turn off, with 85 per cent saying this was the biggest barrier.

The need to rely on photos and reports instead of seeing the car (73 per cent) and the need to do more research (45 per cent) were the second and third most common barriers.

Female drivers were slightly less keen (67 per cent) to buy online than males (58 per cent). 

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For those who were happy to buy a car online, 67 per cent said they liked that buying at a distance gave them the ability to shop around and compare prices more easily.

They also liked the fact they could shop in their own time and not when showrooms were open or temporarily closed due to Covid restrictions, while 60 per cent thought there was more choice online than in a showroom.

Those in the 18-24 year old age bracket were the most likely to entertain buying a car online with nearly half (45 per cent) saying they would consider doing it.

James Baggott

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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