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Online car buying the new ‘normal’ in the UK, Germany and Spain, reports Carwow

James Hind, Carwow

A survey of over 1,000 consumers who purchased a car through carwow since the UK's first dealership reopenings has confirmed a shift towards digital car retailing across Europe.

In total, 54% of recent carwow buyers in the UK surveyed by the web-based marketing platform said they would continue to do the bulk of their car buying online from now on – this compares to 45% in Spain and 38% in Germany.

The survey also found that 43% of carwow buyers in the UK purchased a new car without ever visiting a showroom – this compares to 23% in Germany and 13% in Spain.

36% of all UK buyers valued changes made by dealers to accommodate remote buying.

As part of the 'Delivered and Disinfected initiative' launched on March 19, dealers can promote on carwow that they offer 'delivery and disinfection', facilitate home test drives, vehicle video tours and the ability to purchase 100% remotely.

Carrying out a test drive was the biggest reason why carwow buyers in each of the three countries visited a showroom – the option of a test drive from the comfort of their own home ranks high on the buyers’ wish list, too.

The survey also revealed that one-in-four customers in the UK who were not offered an end-to-end digital purchase process, wanted one and one-in-three customers in the UK took advantage of a virtual video tour of the car they were looking to buy – significantly more than their counterparts in Europe.

Volvo Car UK partnered with Carow in June to access carwow's full range of digital services to support retailers in maximising sales of new and nearly new cars. 

However, more than two-thirds of the UK’s buyers said that COVID-19 will not deter them from visiting dealers in the future – confidence that is mirrored in Spain and Germany.

James Hind, chief executive officer at carwow, said: “Consumer appetite for online buying has been sharpened by the pandemic, which forced many who have previously resisted digital purchasing, to embrace it.

“What is yet to be proven is if this trend will continue, but our survey of Carwow customers, not just here in the UK but in Spain and Germany too, firmly indicates that online buying of cars is now the new norm.”

“What we are seeing however, is that alongside an increase in consumer willingness to transact digitally, is a need for the purchase to be supported by a wider range of remote support services. An end-to-end digital purchase process is almost expected, whilst tools that empower buyers to make decisions, such as virtual vehicle tours and from-home test drives, are growing in demand.”

“Our findings also revealed that dealers in all three countries are being applauded by the car buying public for adapting digitally to their needs and making showrooms safe since they reopened."

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