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Car-buying lessons - for buyer and seller

2015-07-29 07:47

SHOWROOM SHOWDOWN: A survey of car-buyers has shown that change is needed in vehicle showrooms. Image: Auto Trader


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LONDON, England - Auto Trader in the UK has completed some comprehensive research into what’s good, and what could be improved, on "the car-buying journey".

By analysing the views of more than 1000 car-buyers over 24 months Auto Trader found that deal negotiations and salesperson pressure were the two principal "pain points" for people who bought through a car dealer.

It also confirmed that buyers’ perceptions of the industry were often worse than reality.


While 43% feared sales staff pressure and 33% worried about negotiation on pricing, finance and trade-in in advance of the visit, the showroom experience was often less painful. Only 21% said sales pressure was actually a problem but 17% said they had not enjoyed negotiating with sales staff.

One area where perception and reality were closely matched was finding the right dealer: 23% of respondents said they had found this hard, 22% were worried about this in advance of their research.

The findings suggest that vehicle retailers could do more online to build trust and drive traffic to their forecourts.


Nick King, Auto Trader’s insight director, explained: “There are clearly things that could be done to smooth the journey for buyers, on- and off-line. We know, for example, that trade-in negotiation is often the breaking point in a deal.

"We also know that more could be done on-line to inform buyers about competitive finance deals before they get to a showroom, perhaps pre-empting what might be seen as pushiness in the showroom. Making things more transparent on-line could help smooth pain points in the journey, leading to more business and happier customers.”

As part of the research, respondents were asked to select any number of responses from a wish list of things that they felt might improve the buying experience. The top five were:

  • Freedom to browse – no pressure - 32%
  • Better information about the real cost of cars - 32%
  • A ‘one-stop shop’ to find everything on-line - 31%
  • Clearer information on car prices - 29%
  • Better information on the best car deals and finance - 28%

The research concluded by asserting that buyer satisfaction was most clearly shaped by the off-line experience where retailers tended to do a good job.


Three-quarters of buyers said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the whole buying process and face-to-face interaction was most likely to shape a positive impression.

However, 57% said they would be more inclined to buy from the same dealer if the process had been better.

What, in your experience, would you like to see improved in South African vehicle showrooms? Email your thoughts and we'll publish them.

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