The findings show that while consumers and dealers both believe that online activity will increase, the presence of a local car dealership remains very important.
So, while 64.3% of dealers planned to invest in online finance in the next 12 months, 84.2% of dealers believed it was important that the customer visited their showroom.
Similarly, 55.3% of consumers said they would be happy to buy a car online and 70.3% would arrange car finance online. However, 37.3% said having a local dealership was essential and 51.0% a “nice to have.”
Paul Burgess, CEO at Startline Motor Finance, said: “It’s tempting to get caught up in the narrative that all motor retail is inexorably migrating online and, in the much longer term, that remains a possibility, of course."
“However, what our research shows is that, for the moment and into the foreseeable future, there is still a need for the local dealership to sit alongside newer online channels when it comes to selling used cars and motor finance – the ‘clicks and mortar’ approach.
“It’s important to understand the psychology of this. A car is among the largest purchases most consumers will make. It is not a pair of jeans. Many people will want to take a good look at what they are buying – drive it, sit inside, ‘kick the tyres’.
“Our feeling as well is that it is a mistake to look at the data and conclude that there are online and showroom customers – instead, most people will want to be able to use both routes, often as part of the same purchase.”
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