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A third of women feel ‘very comfortable’ shopping in-store for a car alone

CarShop Swindon colleague, Laura Fisher, with a female customer

Women feel ‘apprehensive’ about the used car buying experience and do not ‘feel comfortable’ shopping for a used car alone, according to a recent survey by CarShop.

A survey of over 1,500 members of the public run by Sytner Group's used car supermarket division found that, when asked about their preferred way of buying a car, 24% of male respondents said they would usually go in-store by themselves – and only 11% of women said the same.

The survey revealed that women are six times more likely to shop in-store with another person, than to shop alone.

When asked how comfortable they would feel shopping in-store for a used car alone, less than one third (32%) of women opted for ‘very’, compared to a much larger 57% of men.

Plus, nearly four times as many female respondents said they would feel ‘not at all comfortable’ shopping in-store alone, compared to men.

CarShop’s head of marketing, Natasha Holland, said: “As a brand, we’ve always tried to make the car buying experience as enjoyable as possible for all our customers and we understand that, for some people - including many women - buying a used car can be daunting.

“I see this particularly reflected in the findings that show how many women would much rather shop for a used car with someone else.

“They may not be sure what to expect or may prefer to shop in the comfort of their own homes and in their own time – or to complete part of the process online so they don’t have to spend as long in store. We want the experience to be enjoyable for everyone - however they choose to buy.

“Intimidating showrooms, barky salesmen and awkward haggling over prices are a thing of the past – our prices are fixed so there’s definitely no hard sell. The car buying experience is transforming fast and we are determined to be at the forefront of taking any pressure or worry out of the car buying experience.”

Car retail's switch to omnichannel retailing during successive COVID-19 lockdowns has ensured that used car buyers have “never had it so good”, according to CarShop CEO, Nigel Hurley.

In a recent AM guest opinion article entitled 'What women want: automotive retail's drive to digital doesn't discriminate' drivvn's head of commercial, Jacqui Barker, also recently explained how online retail was benfiting female car buyers and employees.

CarShop’s latest survey also asked respondents what the best thing about the car buying experience is.

While, for both men and women, the most popular option was ‘having a car that better suits my needs’, a higher proportion of women chose the experience ‘being easy, comfortable, and enjoyable’, compared to men.

CarShop, owned by the owner of the AM100's number one group Sytner, US business Penske Automotive, said this could imply that women place more value on the feeling of the experience than men, who place more value the outcome of the sale.

CarShop customer during a test driveWhen asked what they would be most apprehensive about when buying a used car, nearly 10% more men than women chose ‘paying more than the car is worth’. But a higher percentage of women answered they would feel most apprehensive about ‘being talked into buying a car or extras I didn’t want’ and ‘nervousness around going into an unfamiliar environment’.

The findings also revealed that six times as many women than men answered that they would feel most apprehensive about ‘the assumption that they did not know’ about cars.

Holland said the findings show that there is a ‘need for change’ among car dealerships to accommodate the needs of all car buyers.

She said: “Adding an online offering, as CarShop has already done, is a brilliant way of servicing customers that simply prefer to buy online but this is not a ‘clap your hands, job done’ moment.

“There will still be those out there who would rather put the dedicated time aside to come in-store, speak to an experienced team member, see the car for themselves next to other options and have the great feeling of driving it away. So, this environment must be as friendly and non-pressurised as possible – for all customers.”

The CarShop brand is set to go global as Penske Automotive looks to rebrand its US CarSense operation and expand its used car supermarket footprint from 17 to 40 locations by 2023.

CarShop said it has made an investment in its online services to launch a Buy & Finance Online with a Click & Collect offering, live video in its Service Centres, removed store transfer fees and committed to a Best Price Promise, so “no one is unfairly advantaged for knowing more about car specifications”.

Holland added: “We’re also making a huge effort to bring in specific training schemes and opportunities on the subject as well as recruit more female colleagues across a range of different departments and levels – from our on-the-ground sales and technical teams, to our head of business roles and leadership board.”

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