Consumers want industry to move faster to improve dealer experience

You’re not moving fast enough.

That’s what consumers are telling the auto industry about the pace of change in its “decades-old sales processes,” according to Jared Rowe, president of Autotrader.

The conclusion came out of Autotrader’s annual Car Buyer of the Future study released earlier this year.

The study covered three myths about the future of auto sales, the four main areas in which change is needed and the benefits to dealers and manufacturers who adapt to new consumer demands.

083115 IL Consumers want industry to move faster to improve dealer experience

“By recognizing – and embracing – the need for change, we have a tremendous opportunity to surprise and delight our consumers,” said Rowe in referring to the results of the study, which showed that only 17 of 4,002 car shoppers and buyers surveyed prefer the current car-buying process.

Autotrader identified the following myths about the future of vehicle sales:

Sales people will be less important. Eighty-four percent of consumers in the study indicate that they want to buy a car in person, and 43 percent see the dealership as a place to learn – validating information they found online and finding out about specials, offers, warranty and service.

Consumers don’t want to negotiate. Fifty-six percent of consumers prefer to negotiate, including two of the most influential groups in car buying – millennials and females.

The lowest price will always win. While price is important to consumers, the dealership experience trumps the lowest price, with 54 percent of those surveyed saying they would buy their vehicle from a dealership that offered their preferred experience over the lowest price. And 73 percent said they would be willing to drive further for a great salesperson versus 65 percent willing to drive for the lowest price.

The areas in which change is needed most, according to Autotrader, are test drives, deal structuring, financing paperwork and service – all of which we’ll cover in our next post.

Meanwhile, Autotrader said, the benefits are clear: “Dealers and manufacturers who focus on creating – and ultimately deliver – a better shopping and buying experience can reap significant benefits.”

Of the consumers responding to the Autotrader survey:

  • Seventy-two percent would visit dealerships more often if the buying process improved.
  • Two-thirds would be more likely to buy from a dealership that offers their preferred experience.
  • Fifty-three percent would buy a vehicle more often if the buying process improved.

“The sales environment is expected to remain strong across new, used and CPO cars over the next few years,” Rowe said. “And it is exciting to see that we have several ways to enhance the consumer experience for the benefit of all involved – buyers, manufacturers and retailers.”

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