The number of used-car buyers using the Internet in the shopping process stayed flat from 2002 to 2003 according the J.D. Power and Associates' 2003 Used AutoShopper.com study.
After seeing consistent increases each year since 1998 when only 14% of used-car buyers used the Internet to shop for vehicles, the number reached a high of 47% in 2002 and stayed the same in 2003.
“Honestly, I was taken aback,” says Scott Weitzman, senior director of Internet research for J.D. Power. “We were surprised usage is flat.”
Weitzman predicts it will be in the 50-52% range this year. He believes 0% financing and aggressive incentives may have dampened Internet usage in 2003.
Incentives drive traffic to showrooms, but some of those shoppers end up purchasing used vehicles when they haven't qualified for the incentives.
Weitzman predicts the study will see an increase in 2004 by at least a couple of percentage points.
“We're seeing that no longer is it the realm of early adopters,” he says.
The number of people without college degrees shopping for used vehicles online has increased from 42% in 1998 to 55% this year. The average age has increased from 40 to 44.
The study, which measures the online buying behavior of used-car shoppers, indicates that consumers remain reluctant to actually buy online without visiting the dealership first.