TRADITIONAL vehicle search is ‘too limiting’ when it comes to delivering results that are directly relevant to customer needs, according to online motor retail specialist iVendi.
It said its research – involving an analysis of 677,618 searches from July 2019 – showed that where online used car buyers were given the option to type into a free field rather than using old-style drop-down boxes, fewer than half specified a manufacturer and model.
Chief executive James Tew said that only 45 per cent of customers would search for a particular car, while 27 per cent made a lifestyle search such as ‘small SUV’ and 15 per cent would choose a mixture of the two such as ‘BMW convertible’.
He added: ‘In the past few years, there has only really been one key innovation in online search – the ability to search by monthly payment. Otherwise, most dealer websites and car portals are still using drop-down boxes.
‘The fact is that unless someone looking for a used car knows exactly what they want, it’s not a good way of finding something. So for those who want a Ford Fiesta and know they can afford one that is three years old, it works. For others, it is likely to be a frustrating process that delivers many, many useless results.
‘The challenge for future search technology is really to provide highly relevant results for car buyers who have a much less defined idea about what they want.’
The real issue, he continued, was that traditional searches tended to deliver too many irrelevant results for these people instead of a small number of targeted outcomes.
‘The three fundamental factors that drive the majority of car-purchasing journeys are vehicle choice, location and affordability. A good search should be all about helping larger numbers of customers find results that meet their needs in all of those areas.
“One way of doing this is the use of intuitive, lifestyle language that is closer to the way a significant number of consumers conceive of their car-buying preferences. For example, searches could be made for ‘‘German prestige SUVs’’ or ‘‘cheap family car’’.
‘However, it is also potentially possible to use the search history of a customer online to predict their likes. The phrases ‘‘fast coupe’ or ‘‘practical family car’’ have very different meanings to different people. The technology could be used to ascertain much more closely what the person in question is looking for.’
Tew said iVendi intended to launch its own innovative search technology later this year and that it would be unlike anything else currently available.
‘We are working on the final touches and looking forward to bringing it to market,’ he said.