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Over a third of car buyers want part-online purchase but still expect showroom visit, reports eBay Motors Group

  • 34% of buyers "very comfortable" test driving a car at dealership before completing purchase online, with 21% saying it would be their preference.
  • However, the overwhelming preference for the majority (70%) is to visit dealerships to view, test drive and buy their next used car in person.
  • Negotiation, arranging finance and post-purchase administration all identified as key pain points.

14 October 2021 New consumer research by eBay Motors Group has confirmed that for the vast majority of used car buyers, the in-person dealership and test drive experience remain the overwhelming preference in terms of purchase route, with the full online experience the first choice for just one in 10 buyers.

Despite Covid-induced restrictions prompting consumers to purchase more products online, when it comes to used and nearly new car buying, the desire to view, test drive and speak with a product expert in person all remain vital parts of the process for the vast majority.

However, there is clearly an appetite for a hybrid buying experience, with over a third (34%) of buyers saying that having test driven a car at a dealership, they would then be "very comfortable" completing that purchase online and 21% saying it was their preferred purchase path.  

These are among the key findings from the 2021 eBay Motors Group Digital Touchpoints Survey, conducted by Insight Advantage.

When asked how comfortable they would be about buying their next car fully online, 13% said they were "very comfortable" and 42% "somewhat comfortable", compared to 45% who said they would be "not at all comfortable." By contrast, 61% of respondents were "very comfortable" viewing, test driving and buying at a physical dealership and just 2% "uncomfortable".

"Our research reveals just how popular the option of completing some parts of the car buying experience online has become," said Dermot Kelleher, head of marketing and research at eBay Motors Group.

"While the 'full' physical experience remains the preference for the majority of buyers, the Digital Touchpoints Survey highlights the opportunity for automotive retailers to provide omnichannel solutions to engage with customers who want to choose which parts of the transaction they want to conduct in person at a dealership or online," said Kelleher.

"Although the individual needs of buyers will vary, our study also identified a number of key areas within the retailer's control that would appear to lend themselves to enhanced online solutions, namely price negotiation, understanding and arranging finance and post-purchase vehicle administration," said Kelleher.

Download the full Digital Touchpoint Survey here

Source: eBay Motors Group's 2021 Digital Touchpoints Survey was conducted online in June with 2,000 adults who were sole or joint decision makers when buying a car. The survey was conducted by Insight Advantage, the independent research company.