Evidence of a thorough car sanitisation process continues to deliver a key confidence boost for car buyers in the COVID-19 crisis, according to a survey by eBay Motors.
Evidence that retailers must not lose sight of the importance of COVID-19 mitigation measures in all they do came as respondents to a survey of 529 visitors to the Motors.co.uk website in August and September placed cleanliness ahead of value in the current climate.
When asked what type of services would most increase their levels of confidence in dealers under the current circumstances caused by COVID-19, a third (33.1%) of buyers cited thorough car cleaning to ensure vehicles are disinfected, ahead of price reductions by 20.6%.
EBay Motors’ survey data also showed that a free 30-day return period (8.1%), attractive financing options (6.4%) and the option of a home delivery (5.7%) also added to the appeal of a retailer.
Marc Robinson, head of external sales at eBay Motors Group, advised retailers not to ease off on their communication of COVID-19 mitigation measures in light of the evidence, which indicated a continued need for reassurance among customers.
“Our research shows just how important assurances around comprehensive disinfection services provided by dealers are to buyers; even ahead of securing a price reduction,” he said.
“Since being allowed to reopen, dealers have been cognisant of the need to strictly adhere to hygiene rules in their showrooms for all to see. While it is obviously important to extend these considerations to the cars they are selling, they also need to communicate this to customers through their online marketing and at the point of sale.
The importance of buying cars that have been thoroughly disinfected was most keenly felt by female buyers with 61% stating it was among their top three considerations, compared to just 46% of male buyers.
Price reductions were the number one consideration for men and second biggest consideration from females.
As car retailers across the UK started to reopen their showrooms back in June many, like Devonshire Motors dealer principal Nathan Tomlinson, begun communicating the efforts they were taking to make their business a safe environment for returning customers.
Tomlinson later talked of a need to move quickly to “normalise” socially-distanced car showrooms to avoid deterring anxious customers.
EBay Motors' survey data suggests that retailers must continue to deliver messages of reassurance, however.
Last month the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) urged car retailers to stick to the new legislation on retail staff in England wearing face coverings announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
It also said it would provide support to any retailer looking to employ the NHS COVID-19 app 'track and trace' QR codes at their premises, despite no requirement for the sector to display them
Marc Robinson said: “In these uncertain times, hygiene and sanitisation is the new norm and an accepted reality of the new norm – it’s becoming table stakes and if retailers don’t show customers they have high standards then they may not have the confidence to buy.
“We recommend dealers communicate the measures they have in place clearly and consistently to potential buyers.
“Our data shows that car buyer remain highly active, but dealers will need to be flexible to provide additional confidence to consumers.”