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Consumers visit twice as many ‘virtual’ showrooms as physical forecourts

In-market buyers turn to an average of nearly five dealer websites during the buying journey – and nearly a quarter visit more than 10, research has found.

The study, undertaken for Auto Trader by GfK, surveyed more than 600 customers across five dealerships

Tracking the buying journey, from initial lead generation to purchase, showed that the number of virtual visits to showrooms were almost double those physically taken to forecourts.

Nick King, Auto Trader market research director, said: “These results underline the importance of creating a great user experience across all channels. Presenting all the information needed by the buyer on Auto Trader, as well as on the dealer website itself, has never been more important.”

The study also found that the continued growth in demand for newer cars is a reflection of an improving consumer confidence.

Search volumes from May to August 2014 compared to the same period last year revealed a rise in searches for cars under three years old. In August, for example, searches increased from 24.3% in 2013 to 33.5% this year.

This research suggests that more consumers are prepared to buy a newer and more expensive car, said Auto Trader - which is also reflected by a rise in new-car sales – a market which has grown by 10% so far this year, according to latest Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders(SMMT) registration figures.

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