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Online car buying no longer a trend but fast becoming the new normal, findings reveal

Time 5 months ago

New and used car online purchases from franchised retailers via GForces’ NetDirector Auto-e platform rocketed by more than 1,220 per cent last year to a combined value of over £500m.

That’s according to latest figures from the automotive e-commerce system provider, which said key findings showed how online car purchase behaviour had changed dramatically during the global pandemic.

The number of cars sold online using its tech increased from 2,199 in 2019 to 29,209 last year – up by 1,228 per cent and worth more than £500m.


The figures for pre- and during lockdown also underlined the growing importance of e-commerce, particularly for car sales, it said.

Between January and March 2020, the number of new and used cars bought online using GForces technology averaged 640 transactions per month.

But in the first full lockdown months of April and May, those numbers soared, more than quadrupling to 2,675 per month.

It was a similar picture when the UK had its second lockdown in November 2020. Online sales surged by 33 per cent versus the previous month.

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Tim Smith, chief commercial officer of GForces, which sponsored our Top 100 list of the UK’s most profitable dealers, said: ‘As with many other industries, Covid-19 has accelerated the shift to online in a very traditional automotive sales market which was ripe for disruption.

Latent demand

‘The insights we’re sharing today clearly show that customer trust levels when using digital technology are increasing daily, as is their willingness to make large-ticket purchases, such as cars, online.

‘They have appreciated the ease and simplicity, not to mention the personal safety, that e-commerce brings, particularly in these uncertain Covid-19 times.

‘However, what is interesting with the car industry is that we firmly believe there was latent demand there all along.

‘Often, the missing key ingredient was the lack of easy-to-use, seamless systems for consumers to interact and transact with.

‘The pandemic has been the catalyst for change and we are proud to have supported so many of our customers in adapting to the rapidly evolving automotive retail landscape.

‘Online car buying is no longer just a trend, it is fast becoming the new normal for sourcing your next car.’

The average price of a used car bought online via its platform rose by five per cent from £14,983 in 2019 to £15,723 in 2020 – more than £2,900 higher than offline purchases.

GForces now reckons that the number of UK car transactions it will handle during 2021 will double to 58,000, growing further to 72,000 in 2022.

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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