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Car buying research on smartphones sees eight fold increase over three years

Nick King Auto Trader

Car retailers are being urged to wise up to the influence of the smartphone as 41% of all online automotive sales activity takes place through the devices.

Eight times as many consumers are using smartphones to research their next car purchase as was the case just three years ago as part of a fast growing trend identified in research carried out for Auto Trader by Trinity McQueen.

In the last year, a third of all online consumer interactions involving new and used car content across manufacturer and automotive websites were made using a smartphone, compared to three years ago when that was the case in just five per cent of cases.

As of last month, this figure has risen again to 41%, an increase of over eight times as many, identifying that mobiles are now an essential platform within the car buying journey.

Auto Trader insight director, Nick King, said that smartphones are regularly being used by customers on dealership forecourts for “validation purposes” before speaking the sales staff. He added: “Buyers are increasingly drawn to their mobiles for timely answers to specific questions on areas like price and specifications, and to reassure themselves that the retailer is one they can trust.”

King said that it was vital that dealer websites were optimised for smartphones, adding: “When did you last check your mobile website? If your site isn’t mobile optimised, consumers won’t find your cars – it’s as simple as that.”

The Trinity McQueen study collated a mixture of qualitative and quantitative data from over one thousand car buyers.

The data showed that, on average, consumers use at least two devices during their research.

Online research proved to be key for buyers, with walk-ins as the first point of contact between well-informed buyers and retailers in over half of all transactions.

Consumer forecourt research broadly fell into four categories: questions about pricing, questions about stock, questions about finance and questions about the dealership itself.

The research also revealed that targeted research is often carried out using a PC or laptop, with

large screens making it easier to compare information across multiple sites.

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