Despite the prevalence of e-commerce in most aspects of modern retail, new research carried out by Dealerweb indicates widespread price sensitivity among consumers when it comes to the prospect of purchasing new cars online.

We recently polled 1,200 UK motorists on their attitudes towards online car shopping, where respondents were asked to name the price range in which they would consider buying a new car entirely online (i.e. without speaking to a dealer or visiting a showroom). 93% said they would not purchase a car online that was worth more than £30,000 – below the £33,559 average value of a new car sold in the UK*. 77% would never consider buying a new car online with a list price of more than £15,000.

In addition, 52% said that they would never consider purchasing a new vehicle online under any circumstance.

Commenting on the findings, Martin Hill, Managing Director of Dealerweb, said:

“Our research indicates a crucial caveat to the willingness of motorists in buying a car entirely online.

Whilst just under half of those surveyed said they would possibly consider an online purchase, there is a steep drop-off in consumer interest in buying a car worth more than £15,000.

However, previous Dealerweb research has shown a significant increase in online enquiry volumes and the desire by customers to make initial enquiries through digital channels. We would therefore support the case for dealers to offer a ‘blended’ retail experience, and believe the most effective selling model is one that significantly invests in strong online channels and consumer shopping experiences at the initial stage of the buying journey, designed to funnel queries through to the showroom.

However, dealers must ensure that they offer the best possible experience for customers at every stage of the buying journey, particularly when the desire for face-to-face interaction with dealers and ‘hands-on’ time with cars remains strong.

For manufacturers, this evidences a need to ensure that dealers are optimising their online product channels, and are capturing as many leads as possible to drive more customers through showroom doors."

While new car sales declined in the UK during the first quarter of 2018, Dealerweb data released in April revealed that online enquiries for new and used cars had increased by 11%, compared to a decline in volume for all other forms of enquiry.

  • Source: cap hpi, ‘New car prices rise 38% in last decade’ – 13 March 2018 – £33,559 was the average offered price of cars in February 2018.

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