Press release

Industry must be 'Retail Ready' in response to changing consumer expectations

According to the latest research by Auto Trader, the UK’s largest marketplace for new and used cars, whilst 82% of consumers researching their next car are looking to buy now or as soon as they’re able to make a transaction, more than three quarters (76%) have expressed concern of visiting a dealership in person once the current restrictions have been lifted.

The research forms the second part of a comprehensive consumer study conducted between the 14th – 17th April. It found that nearly one in four (24%) of the 1,051 people asked about their car buying behaviour said they’d ‘definitely’ be happy to return to a normal interaction with a retailer as soon as the restrictions have been lifted, three in four (76%) displayed some uncertainty, and one in five (20%) are actively looking to avoid it. 

Commenting on the research, Auto Trader’s Director of Commercial Products, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, said: “We’re confident the appetite to purchase remains, however our research highlights that for most consumers, their expectation of a retailing experience will be vastly different to what it was pre-lockdown. Retailers must use this time to plan how they can implement measures that enable their customers to buy a car safely and which comply to the strict guidance set out by the government. They must be retail ready for when the restrictions lift - failure to do so will put them at a huge disadvantage to those businesses that have been able to adapt to the new retail landscape we are now faced with.”

When asked about whether they’d be interested in buying a car if a home delivery service was an option, only 7% of consumers said they would. This increases to 12% of car buyers aged 45-54, which although low still does represent a significant number of annual transactions. Half (50%) of the those surveyed said they’d still be happy to complete the purchase at the dealership but wanted the majority of the process conducted online – viewing, test driving and collection would have to happen in one visit.  For younger car buyers (18-24) this increased to 61%.

Looking at the data on a more granular level, it’s interesting to note there is more confidence among older demographics, with over half (52%) of car buyers aged 55 + stating that they’d be happy to complete a purchase in person at a dealership with more than one visit if required. In contrast just a third (33%) of 18-24-years-olds said they’d be comfortable to do so. 

To help alleviate consumer anxieties and to increase confidence in a retailer’s ability to sell a vehicle safely, Auto Trader is set to introduce a range of new features to retailers’ adverts which indicate the new measures they are putting in place. Businesses that provide a home delivery service will be able to include a corresponding service flag to their adverts, and for those who offer it, potential customers will have the option to book a Live Video Viewing directly with the retailer in order to explore any specific details or features they couldn’t find in the advert view. What’s more, adverts will have a dedicated space for retailers to outline the steps they’ve taken to maintain consumer safety during the in-store experience, such as social distancing measures, anti-bacterial cleaning, and the application of personal protective equipment (PPE) among staff.

Edwards-Smajda continued: “With consumer visits to dealerships set to fall, online showrooms will become the primary mechanism for driving sales. As a result, the digital marketplace will become increasingly complex and competitive; the businesses that will stand out from their competitors will be those that not only build confidence in the cars they’re selling, but in their ability to sell them safely. That’s why our development team has been busier than ever to accelerate the launch of new functionality that will help retailers highlight the extra mile they’ve gone to keep their customers safe.”

The new features will appear on Auto Trader’s marketplace as soon as the current restrictions have been lifted and showrooms have been allowed to open in line with government advice. The functionality will be included in all selling packages at no additional charge and apply to all channels, including vans, bikes and leisure. Retailers will receive more information on setting up these features next week (commencing 4th May 2020).

-ENDS-

Research methodology

The research, which was conducted between the 14th – 17th April, consisted of three separate online consumer surveys targeting different consumer demographics or focused on different themes: consumer attitudes to car ownership (1,067 participants), consumer car buying behaviours in response to COVID-19 (1,051 participants), and a survey of current UK driving license holders not currently owning a vehicle (1,059 participants). 

The new supply and demand dynamics mean prices for all vehicle age bands are strong vs last year with stock from 10-15 years up the most at 9.4%. You can track live market prices and more using our free market insight tool. Find out more https://t.co/jS0MuutIwR #atinsightoftheday https://t.co/LkL1JyxePl
Are you missing a window of #opportunity? https://t.co/1uTJCmteVN
Today's used car transactions from the @SMMT revealed the market was down nearly 50% in Q2. The drop will come as a surprise to few, but the good news is that Q3 is tracking well ahead of this time last year. Find out more here: https://t.co/brDH8jbIof https://t.co/J7DdbVpILA
There was a lot of love for @MINIUK which was named the Most Loved Brand at this year’s Auto Trader New Car Awards! Find out why owners love the brand so much now https://t.co/xuODBgvR0W
Where is your focus in this new environment? @johnfohanlon1 revealed he was focussed on quarterly performance and urged retailers to do the same rather than take a short-term view – especially since he predicts a slight lull in August due to summer holidays. #atinsightoftheday https://t.co/5zLnkJF3wT
If you missed this week’s webinar featuring our interview with John O'Hanlon then don’t panic! You can now watch the whole webinar on demand > https://t.co/JOzyGd9SYs https://t.co/wpY71cGxtN
We're excited to be sponsoring Weekends on @davechannel, reaching 25.2 million adults over the next 12 months, to help encourage even more potential buyers to #cardealers adverts on Auto Trader! https://t.co/BWUS0yCHUF
Not only did the @Tesla Model 3 take the New Car of the Year award at this year’s Auto Trader New Car Awards, but it also took the Best Electric Car award! Find out what owners said now at https://t.co/blltmT0Wbi #Tesla #model3 #newcar #awards #Automotive https://t.co/lSXeHSddzH
This week the @SMMT revealed new car registrations were up 11.3% compared to July last year! Looking closer at the data we can see this was primarily driven by a surge in alternative fuel vehicle registrations which now account for 25.5% of market share. #atinsightoftheday https://t.co/GbElJLHanV
Tune into @AutoRetail Live at 2pm today to hear the latest advice, tips, insight & discussion from the expert panel - @ASE_Global's chairman @mikejonesase, Luscombe Motor's @RobinLuscombe & Auto Trader's head of new car, Sue Fish. Register for free here: https://t.co/0FJeYOFhfj https://t.co/GKnoJKJQiz

Auto Trader Group plc
Registered in England (Company number: 09439967)

Auto Trader Limited
Registered in England and Wales (Company number: 03909628)

Registered address:

1 Tony Wilson Place
Manchester
M15 4FN
VAT number: GB 614 8918 20

Keep in touch

We use social media to speak to the UK’s largest car buying audience