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Car buyers visit websites before showrooms

Manufacturer websites have a heavy influence on new car purchases with 85% of car buyers visiting before heading to the showroom.

Independent research from customer experience benchmarking firm, Global Reviews, also found that 80% of customers use the internet to compare cars from different manufacturers. Most significantly, 20% go online again just before making their final decision.

Global Reviews ' luxury car website benchmark' measured customers' experience on 10 of the top luxury car websites. It asked over 1,000 customers what they wanted from a car website and then looked at the best industry websites globally to create a benchmark of best practice.

The sites were assessed against more than 475 objective criteria including the information available to prospective buyers, customer support, service offered to vehicle owners, and general site usability.

The study found that BMW offered the best customer online experice, with a 76% score against the average 63%. Audi, Aston Martin, Subaru and Ferrari all offered a below average online experience.

Adam Goodvach, Global Reviews director, said: "It is clear from this research that the vast majority of car buyers depend on websites. With so many customers returning to the sites just before making their final decision, car companies are missing a trick if they fail to offer potential buyers the information they are looking for online."

Full results from the survey are detailed below:

  • BMW offers the best customer online experience with 76%, against an industry average of 62%, followed by Jaguar (72%), Porsche (71%), Ford (69%), Mercedes (68%), VW (62%)

  • Audi, Aston Martin and Subaru (54%) and Ferrari (44%) offer their customers a below average online experience

  • Mercedes offers the best online experience for prospective buyers (66%), followed by Porsche (63%) and Jaguar (62%).

  • 81% of customers say it is important to be able to find full features list online. This is the area that most manufacturers focus on and the industry average is a very respectable 80%. Audi leads with 94% and BMW is second with 92%. The Ferrari website is benchmarked at 39%.

  • 82% of customers would want to order a printed brochure online compared with just 6% by the telephone. While most companies enable online ordering, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche do not.

  • 34% would like to be able to book a test drive, or request a call back about one online. But only six of the 10 companies offer this service.

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