Digitalisation of the automobile purchasing process

The purchasing of automobiles is moving towards a completely digitised process, as consumers place more trust in online shopping.

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Automobile digitalised
Online shopping is taking over the automobile industry. Photo: Wayhome Studio, Bigstock.

Consumer buying behaviours have radically shifted in recent years, along with consumers’ increasing trust of online avenues. The world has seen a shift in focus from the reliability of in-store shopping, to the convenience that e-commerce brings.

Therefore, it was only a matter of time until the automobile industry jumped on the online bandwagon.

Why are cars so far behind?

Cars are typically considered an important and substantial purchase, involving high amounts of consumer research and testing. For this reason, the sale of cars has tended to remain in the physical realm of shopping, where consumers feel comfortable making such a large purchase.

The changing nature of car purchasing

In the last few years, the car purchasing process has already seen a streamlining effect on consumers’ journeys. The process of buying an automobile has shortened by almost 50 days, with consumers placing an increasing reliance on digital channels to help with the process.

Buyers have also reduced their visits to car dealerships by more than 50% since 2013, with digital media now permitting many observations and decisions to occur online, in the comfort of your own home.

In fact, it is predicted that soon car dealerships may be completely cut out of the equation, with consumers able to comfortably make the entire purchasing decision online.

The rise of customer feedback sites has introduced car comparison and review sites. With this resource, consumers receive information and evaluations from other consumers, to aid their decision making process in selecting the best car for them.

Reaction of auto marketers

Car brands have responded to this online trend by placing a major focus on digital advertising, rather than traditional channels of marketing. Although auto marketers are still retaining a heavy focus on TV advertisements as well, the growth in these budgets has been marginal compared to that of digital channels.

By utilizing a combination of promotional strategies, car marketers are attempting to attract a wide audience and maximize their customer base.

Resistance to the trend

Those in the 55+ age bracket represent the majority of those who lack confidence in the process, coinciding with the general resistance to technology seen in that demographic.

There remain obvious advantages to in-store shopping which online avenues can’t offer, such as physical testing, however digital platforms are presenting more and more advantages themselves.

While some people are inevitably skeptical about the digitisation of car sales, it appears to be a fast approaching change to the automobile industry. It will input more convenience and efficiency into the car purchasing process and hopefully induce more customer satisfaction.