Car buying remains challenging in the U.K., with 14% of consumers saying they believe it has become more difficult.
A survey by Auto Trader, the U.K.’s largest digital automotive marketplace, also finds 52% of car buyers believe the car buying experience hasn’t changed and only 24% feel the process is becoming easier.
The problem for consumers, Auto Trader says, is a chaotic and non-linear process of jobs – determining budget, make, model, finance, insurance, etc. – necessary for them to be showroom-ready.
The survey finds car buyers face about 30 different jobs to be done, each framed around their needs: what they can afford, the type of car and the actual purchase process.
Unlike other complex purchase processes, where consumers get help completing respective tasks more effectively, Auto Trader says car buyers don’t feel they receive the same support from the automotive industry.
“As a result, the jobs are difficult to complete and soon become pain points, leading to 23% of car buyers spending more time on the process, 19% becoming bored, 16% confused and 15% dreading buying a car.
“Most worryingly, 42% are less likely to carry on in the process.”
Some 65% of car buyers say they feel they must do as much research as possible before they visit a dealership. During this process, they’re looking for a car that suits their requirements, its “real” price, the finance options, its availability and a retailer to buy it from that they can trust.
The research finds if this information is more readily available from retailers transparently and simplistically, customers arrive at the dealership with a more positive view of the experience and importantly, ready to buy.
Some 34% of consumers who bought a new car, and 26% of those who bought used, said speaking to a helpful retailer was the biggest accelerator to purchase.
Being offered a good deal from a retailer was the second-biggest influence – 32% for new-car buyers and 28% for used.
For one in five car buyers, a great showroom experience means neutral advice and opinions from a retailer who is genuinely interested in their needs. A great dealership experience is more likely to make 77% of consumers buy a car from them and 79% to return.
The other major challenge facing today’s car buyers is difficulty in finding inspiration, with one in five entering the process with no idea of what car they want.
Ian Plummer, Auto Trader commercial director, says that on first look the results of this year’s report paints a disappointing picture of the U.K. automotive industry.
“Consumers are frustrated by a complex process, and as a result slowing up sales at a time when the industry needs them most,” Plummer says.
“However, with one in three car buyers stating they would have bought their car sooner if they’d had a smoother experience, there are clearly some huge opportunities for retailers and manufacturers.”