Automotive digital retailing benefits car shoppers, many of whom are clamoring for a shorter purchase process. With everyone now dealing with COVID-19, car shoppers will rely even more on the digital process.
Cox Automotive says a car buyer will spend an average of 96 days in the car-buying process from initial research to completing the purchase.
Cox Automotive also points to a larger number of consumers leveraging online research when shopping for a car.
Its latest Car Buyer Journey study “shows car buyers are spending 61% of their total shopping time online, up from 57% two years ago.
Overall shopping time, however, has dropped for both new- and used-vehicle buyers. According to the study, consumers today spend an estimated 13 hours and 55 minutes researching and shopping for a vehicle, down from 14 hours and 44 minutes in 2017.
A long transaction time is one of the frustrations of today’s car shopper. Interactions with F&I remains another point of contention. According to Autotrader, 81% of car shoppers give the test-driving process an 8-10 approval rating. However, satisfaction levels declined to 67% when F&I interactions were also factored in.
To combat this, more dealers are beginning to leverage additional online education of F&I options when shoppers are beginning their research.
When it comes to F&I options, there remains a disconnect between online research ahead of time and the experience at the showroom at the time of transaction.
While many F&I options can benefit car buyers, many of them perceive these as upsells.
A lot of Americans dislike some aspect of car shopping, with the majority saying they feel pressure to buy right away or to buy additional features.
This pressure and mindset can be lessened if car shoppers have information ahead of time on F&I product options. They can learn product benefits in the comfort of their home as opposed to the dealership.
The biggest opportunity for dealers remains the amount of time it takes a consumer to get through the entire purchase process.
A time-consuming F&I process can be stressful and is the primary source of customer dissatisfaction. (Wards Industry Voices contributor Tim Blochowiak, left)
Dealers who address this benefit. That’s why many of them incorporate online F&I product options and education early in the online car-shopping process.
Tim Blochowiak is vice president of Dealer Sales of Protective Asset Protection, an F&I provider.