Buying cars entirely online? We’re not quite there yet

The ongoing debate about whether buyers will eventually search for, locate and buy a car online without necessarily seeing and testing continues to divide the trade. Of course the companies which are gearing up for this will say that they make the process so user friendly that car buyers can feel totally confident that they are getting what they think they are.

The statistics regarding internet use in the UK make somewhat startling reading, According to Forrester Research By 2011 32 million UK consumers will be shopping online and the value of goods they buy online will add up to almost £52bn. Not only that by 2008 65% of the adult population in the UK were “online” and it is expected that 75% of homes will have broadband access by the end of 2010.

However although many consumers will now think nothing of spending large sums of money via the web there might still be a stumbling block to paying thousands for big ticket items such as cars.
Add to that the emotive nature of car ownership and I still feel we are a few years away from seeing a major distraction from traditional car sales outlets. It is no secret that one of the reasons that car supermarkets have become so successful (and there are many more of them) is because of similar parallels to internet buying, because it is time saving and convenient.

The fast pace of the modern world and the fact that we are all working seemingly that much harder to just live our lives and provide for our families means that our downtime is precious and therefore car supermarkets will virtually ensure that buyers can choose from literally thousands of models and touch feel and test them all at once. This cuts down the amount of time it takes to actually buy a car to a minimum and the fact that these venues continue to grow and multiply tells us that customers are comfortable with buying from there, even if it is by no means a perfect experience.

Things will without doubt change though and technology moves at such a pace that if you stop and think for a moment it can be pretty frightening. I think we all agree that long term the buyers of tomorrow will be very used to interacting via social media and will likely use the experience of friends and online buddies to empower themselves to buy without trying.

Let’s face it with the way technology is going you will virtually get inside a car on the net soon anyway and there are several forums available to find out as much info as you want about the quality of any product.

After all it all boils down to confidence, if companies can demonstrate they do exactly what they claim to do and resolve any disputes whilst keeping the customers faith intact, the message will spread and more people will consider this as a viable buying option.

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3 Responses to Buying cars entirely online? We’re not quite there yet

  1. Ford Direct August 4, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    I think the important thing to be aware of at the moment (and probably for the next few years) is that with expensive purchases such as vehicles, consumers still want to touch, feel and experience the product before they make their buying decision. This means that there will continue to be show rooms and dealers that can provide this facility; consumers want to test drive the car. As the article points out however, buying behaviour of consumers is changing faster than ever. Who knows, in a few years time, maybe we will be using Facebook applications to buy the car of our dreams. For the next while however, I don’t doubt that the car salesman will still have a physical role to play in the showroom.

  2. dealaday August 5, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    I’m not so sure that customers always still need to touch and feel before they buy, many seem to be quite happy buying from distance which never used to be the case before the net took over. OK you may never get all the people behaving like this but as cars are so much more reliable and the models in each sector are similarly priced, do people really have such a large choice which would need them to trawl round showrooms? I’m not so sure but like the piece says those that gear themselves up for selling online will certainly need to streamline their payment systems and make online order forms and invoicing much more user friendly and then buyers may believe it to be a natural thing to do when buying a car. Just my 2 cents.

  3. Mark Robbins August 5, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    Come on everyone, you’re forgetting something here, consumers would never just buy online wihout seeing the product, if they did how could they ask for the keys to five different vehicles, start them all up, let their kids and dogs run all over them, get you to put the seats in every single configuration know to man, ask enough questions to fill a Theasourus, find and moan about a stone chip the size of an amoeba, pick holes in the “as new” valet, tell you how they dont like the colour (even though it was plain to see on the net) ask if it will be as reliable in Ten Years time and if not will it still be covered by warranty? and last but not least, take it on a two hour test drive and on return say something like, ” Thanks, we will have a think about that” No, the public will never just buy online, where’s the fun in that?

    Mr Cynical, too long in the business………………………………

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