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80% of buyers still want to visit dealerships in person, study finds

Marc Robinson, head of external sales at eBay  Motors Group

Research by eBay Motors Group has showed that 56% of car buyers “definitely” want to visit a dealership as part of their next car purchase, with 24% saying they would “probably” visit.

Only 6% said they would “definitely not” visit a dealership if they could avoid doing so, while 6% said they would be “reluctant” and 8% were undecided.

Earlier this week, AM reported that car retailers across the UK could now display QR codes to facilitate the NHS Track and Trace app, in monitoring the movement of staff and customers. 

The Consumer Insight Panel polled the views of 529 visitors to, during August and September, to gauge how COVID-19 considerations were impacting car buying decisions.

Marc Robinson, head of external sales at eBay Motors Group, said: “Our research shows just how important personal interaction with dealers is for most car buyers currently considering their next purchase.

“Dealerships across the country have worked hard to reopen and trade as normally as possible, while adhering to the government’s rules on social distancing and our research shows that this is meeting a clear consumer need – namely for a physical dealership experience including being able to view cars in the metal on forecourts and discuss purchases face-to-face with dealers in showrooms.

“We believe those dealers who can be flexible in their approach and combine comprehensive online information and services alongside a reassuring offline experience will be best placed to secure future sales.”

The study also found that real life interaction with a dealer from the start of the buying process is important among buyers.

After finding a car online, 39% said they would phone a dealer direct, followed by 28% choosing a walk-in at the dealership and 22% saying they would email first, followed by 6% favouring text messaging and only 4% saying they would use Live Chat first.

Robinson said: “The research indicates that COVID-19 may have heightened consumer expectations as to dealer response times as evidenced by telephone calls being the preferred contact method for 39% of consumers and that 42% of buyers expect a response to an email or texts within an hour.”

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