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What we know about car buyers now that we are out of lockdown

What we know about car buyers now that we are out of lockdown

Article published: 10 September 2020

The last quarter has been a challenging one, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t learnt anything useful from our time spent in lockdown. In fact, as the UK’s car dealers rallied and leapt to embrace the digital showroom and new ways of selling, we saw the pandemic laying the groundwork for some long-term changes and new priorities in automotive digital marketing.

The last quarter has been a challenging one (understatement of the century), but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t learnt anything useful from our time spent in lockdown. In fact, as the UK’s car dealers rallied and leapt to embrace the digital showroom and new ways of selling, we saw the pandemic laying the groundwork for some long-term changes and new priorities in automotive digital marketing.

Whilst there are still plenty of challenges ahead (not least the impact of continuing local lockdown and the new recession Britain finds itself in), we thought now would be a good time to reflect at some of the lessons and insights we can pull out of 2020’s unique scenario:

Customers will happily pay deposits on used vehicles

We may not be at the point yet where the majority of customers are willing to lay down thousands of pounds on a car sight-unseen – although Coronavirus has shown us that we aren’t as far away from this as the UK dealer network had perhaps assumed.

Where we are, however, is at a place where customers are happy to put deposits down to hold the cars they like – even when those deposits are at higher amounts than average. In fact, whilst conversion is highest around the £100-200 region, we have seen deposits of up to £500 happily placed.

The launch of AutoTransact this April has given us some very interesting insights. August alone saw deposits taken on over £2 million pounds worth of stock – supporting the conclusion that eCommerce offers a very valuable channel when embraced.

Buyers in the dealership are increasingly likely to buy a car

2020 has cemented patterns of behaviour that were already happening – and part of that is that car buyers are even more reticent to come into a dealership until they are 100% certain what they want. Harry Bott from Mediahawk explains that customers “have increased their research until such time as they are ready to trade. When they do arrive at a dealership you can be very certain they will convert to a sale and are unlikely to be time wasters.”.

The resulting changes for dealers? A continuing challenge to ensure that your website is optimised for shoppers and researchers, offering the highest chance of engaging them and converting.

Website personalisation pays big dividends.

The statistics pre-lockdown already showed that personalisation – such as that offered via our innovative AutoEdge personalisation engine – works for customers. We’ve already improved conversion rates by more than 10%, and for one client we delivered 589 additional used car enquiries over less than 30 days. However, with physical dealer interaction rarer or more difficult to execute in this post-lockdown phase, it can only get more important.

In fact, our most recent pool of data demonstrates a 23% conversion rate for clients shown personalised content via our AutoEdge solution. These are big figures that will have a huge impact on a dealer’s bottom line – not to mention the likelihood of producing a happy customer who feels seen and understood.

Finance wins out over cash

With cars being such a significant purchase, finance has always played a huge part in purchases of both new and used cars. However, that influence has grown even more dramatic since we’ve emerged from lockdown. Industry finance experts, Codeweavers, have seen a significant rise in use relating to online finance services – with an upsurge in July 2020 of 39.56% over July 2019 interactions.

Has the increasing financial instability contributed to finance policy engagement, or is it increasingly easy (and non-threatening) to consider your finance options on a dealer website when you can’t simply “pop in”?

So here is just a selection of our insights – have you noticed any other patterns or behaviours?

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10 September 2020

What we know about car buyers now that we are out of lockdown

The last quarter has been a challenging one, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t learnt anything useful from our time spent in lockdown. In fact, as the UK’s car dealers rallied and leapt to embrace the digital showroom and new ways of selling, we saw the pandemic laying the groundwork for some long-term changes and new priorities in automotive digital marketing.