- Cox Automotive’s latest study, Digitization of Car Buying, reveals that digital retailing has evolved into an essential dealer tool that saves time and deepens connections with car buyers.
- Shoppers are more willing to provide their personal data to dealers online to facilitate a more customized buying experience.
- Data inaccuracies and repetitive steps can lead to inefficiencies and dissatisfaction in the online car-buying journey.
ATLANTA, Nov. 17, 2023 – Nearly all car dealers currently using digital retailing tools claim it has positively impacted their business, especially in customer experience and satisfaction, according to Cox Automotive’s 2023 Digitization of Car Buying Study. Capturing data from shoppers, buyers, and franchise dealers, Cox Automotive’s latest research on the state of digital retailing underscores how commonplace it is and the improvements it has added to the overall buying and selling experience.
“Digital Retailing has made significant progress in penetration among dealers – with nearly 4-in-10 dealers offering customers the ability to complete all of the steps of the deal online, up from 3-in-10 only a year ago,” said Tracy Noonan Fred, SVP of Dealer Solutions at Cox Automotive. “Despite the recent economic ups and downs, dealers continue to remain highly satisfied with these digital investments because of their positive impact on both customer and staff experience.”
“Now that buyers have a growing willingness to share their data with dealers online, knowing that it is driving a more personalized online experience, digital retailing is not just a tool for efficiency – it is a mainstream best practice that consumers expect from their shopping experience,” added Jessica Stafford, SVP of Consumer Solutions at Cox Automotive.
Since 2017, Cox Automotive has studied both dealer and buyer perceptions related to the digitization of car buying and the rise of automotive eCommerce, which accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to 2022, in 2023 digital retailing has made an even bigger impact in four areas of dealers’ business: customer relationships, deal-making, staff implications and F&I. However, digital retailing faces challenges, namely in repetitive processes, which can undermine customer trust and increase the time it takes to complete a deal.
Takeaways from the study include:
- Digital retailing continues to drive efficiency but also is a tool for strengthening personal connections with buyers.
- 76% of dealers find digital retailing tools have improved customer relationships and have eased completing the deal; 61% of dealers have found these tools improve the F&I process, an area that has historically been a major pain point for shoppers.
- Shoppers are willing to provide access to information that enables an ideal buying experience. 74% of shoppers are comfortable sharing personal data such as income and credit score, 52% their vehicle data, and 29% their online and social media data.
- Dealers need to ease challenges that limit deal continuity and help build shopper confidence.
- 97% of dealers said that customers complete steps online and repeat them in-store. The most frequently repeated steps relate to trade-in offers, deal breakouts, finalizing the purchase price, selecting add-ons, and financing applications.
- Behind this repetition is a trust gap; only 8% of dealers completely trust the information shoppers share with them online, and 70% say shoppers repeat steps to verify data is accurate.
- A hybrid digital approach in-store can mitigate the barriers shoppers find online.
- Only 1-in-4 dealers acknowledge their digital solutions offer a congruent experience online and in-store. This lack of consistency instills a sense of doubt that can disrupt an otherwise satisfying purchase process. Tools that offer accuracy and continuity of vehicle information and the customer’s personal data whether in-store or online can help avoid this risk.
- 91% of shoppers want the option to interact digitally at the dealership, and many dealers are embracing new tools to meet this desire. 81% of dealers currently use or are interested in their salespeople using digital tools to connect and continue their shoppers’ process at the dealership.
“This study sheds light on the positive impact digital retailing is having on dealers’ business,” said Lori Wittman, President of Retail Solutions for Cox Automotive. “It’s no longer enough to put widgets on a website. Dealers who continue to invest in digital and AI-powered tools that provide a user-friendly, secure environment where shoppers can share personal data and complete deals with tools that work both online and in-store, will continue to reap financial benefits that come with higher shopper and staff satisfaction.”
To learn more, download The Digitization of Car Buying Study eBook.
Study Background and Methodology
The Digitization of Car Buying Study measures how dealers, shoppers and buyers continue to be impacted by digitization in the car buying and selling process. The study is based on a survey of 1,650 shoppers, 2,963 buyers, and 393 franchise dealers and was conducted from July 5, 2023, to July 31, 2023.
About Cox Automotive
Cox Automotive is the world’s largest automotive services and technology provider. Fueled by the largest breadth of first-party data fed by 2.3 billion online interactions a year, Cox Automotive tailors leading solutions for car shoppers, automakers, dealers, retailers, lenders and fleet owners. The company has 25,000-plus employees on five continents and a family of trusted brands that includes Autotrader®, Dealertrack®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, NextGear Capital™ and vAuto®. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc., a privately-owned, Atlanta-based company with $22 billion in annual revenue. Visit www.coxautoinc.com or connect via @CoxAutomotive on Twitter, CoxAutoInc on Facebook or Cox-Automotive-Inc on LinkedIn.