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‘Matching dealer websites to consumer behaviour’ – Stuart Bluck, Auto Trader

Understanding how would-be car buyers are searching for their next vehicle as well as the models most in demand is critical for a dealership’s used car strategy, Auto Trader’s head of research and insight Stuart Bluck will tell delegates at AM’s Digital Marketing Conference, hosted in conjunction with the trade’s leading media group.

The conference, which takes place at Birmingham’s NEC on 12 February, brings together a host of industry and digital experts and includes workshop sessions to enable delegates to delve deeper into specific subject areas.

Bluck, along with Auto Trader’s digital sales director Rakesh Patel, will host a workshop session exploring the wealth of data the group tracks and the insights it provides from browsing behaviour to decision-making and the types of vehicles most in demand.

“Our data tells us exactly how used car information should be set out on a website for maximum impact and interaction,” Bluck explained. “Get that first step wrong and it’s likely a potential buyer won’t even consider any of your stock.”

However, Auto Trader’s research promises to take delegates beyond the search arena and into the next stages as it follows up its users to find out where they eventually bought their vehicle and reasons for not purchasing a particular car despite extensive website activity. The research is based on almost 2000 consumers who bought vehicles from a selection of franchised groups, independent traders and car supermarkets.

“First and foremost, dealers need to remember for these consumers, it is about the car. A high number of consumers are making a decision about the car purely from their online research; the test drive is merely a confirmation of that they have made the right choice. If it’s the right car, at the right price at the right location, it will make the shortlist. The final decision will be made according to their sales experience so if the car has already been sold or a sales executive tries to interest them in a different model, chances are their custom will be lost. They have made their mind up and they don’t want sales executives muddying the waters, they just need their purchase decision reinforced and for the buying process to be as simple and efficient as possible.”

Bluck and Rakesh will provide an overview of Auto Trader’s learnings of the car buyer’s digital journey to enable dealers to apply its lessons to their own websites. However, dealers also need to ensure the business itself is well presented online as the car buyer, having decided on the vehicles they wish to consider, will be looking to ascertain the reputation of the seller. The consumer will typically explore consumer reviews as well as making their own decisions on the information the dealership provides.

“Transparency and honesty is essential,” said Bluck. “And the perception of the consumer will be made according to the information they find about a business online.”

He added: “The forecourt has moved online and this is where the car buyer’s validation process takes place. People do not want to be sold to, by the time they have made contact, they simply want to transact.”

Auto Trader’s sister workshop, which will be led by Nick King, market research director, and Peter Watts, brand director, will draw more heavily on the group’s research and show how dealers need to change their approach once car buyers visit the showroom as a result of their digital journey which has fundamentally changed the consumer’s expectation at the point of sale.

Tickets are available to dealers and manufacturers, with a limited number of supplier tickets on sale. To book, please contact Emma-Louise Kinnaird on 01733 395133, email  or visit

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