Reports of the death of the car dealer have been greatly exaggerated, according to a new study conducted by CitNOW
Its study revealed that are car buyers are more inclined to visit dealers than ever, with more than 55 percent of motorists entering a showroom as part of the buying journey.
This is despite the growth of online buying portals, with one in 10 (11 percent) of buyers taking the plunge without seeing the car. Modern consumers are more comfortable with buying valuable products online, happy to put their trust in respected brands.
The CitNOW study suggests that the car dealer has a future, with one in 10 buyers expecting to buy a car when they visit a retailer.
But while the over 55s are most likely to visit a dealer (69 percent), motorists aged 35-44 are the least likely, and many will need encouragement to visit a showroom.
Online videos, a large selection of photos and social media engagement could provide the motivation required to increase footfall.
The challenge for retailers
Carol Fairchild, commercial director of CitNOW, said: “Motorists clearly still covet that face-to-face customer experience and want the buying journey to be a personal one with the dealership.
“The challenge for retailers is standing out; making sure that they are using technology like video, which offers a personal, face-to-face experience remotely, to build customer engagement before they even set foot in the dealership.
“In doing so, dealerships can make sure customers are visiting their forecourt, rather than the one next door.”
Manufacturers must balance the demands of the modern customer with the needs of its dealer network, with brands keen to show that traditional avenues can co-exist with the digital highway.
Last year, Ford launched a new online sales service called Ford Buy Online, saying that the internet purchase tool is in response to growing customer demand to buy cars online.
“We have the most extensive dealership network, which will remain to serve the many customers wanting to visit a dealer and for specialist retail, van and service assistance,” said Ford of Britain chairman and MD Andy Barratt.