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Retailers play biggest part in improving van buying experience, finds Auto Trader

A positive retailer experience is the biggest accelerator to purchase for van buyers, according to the latest Auto Trader Van Buyer report.

Research conducted by Auto Trader revealed the biggest factor in improving the van buying experience, is the retailer themselves, with a third of both personal buyers (32%) and SMEs (34%) saying the information they’re able to provide is a key influence on the decision making process.

Such is the value van buyers place on the relationship with the retailer, 62% of SME buyers said they will buy from the business they considered at the very beginning of their research journey - typically the same retailer from which they made their previous purchase.

Auto Trader says the importance of the interactions and relationship with the retailer cannot be overestimated, and each lead should be considered a potential customer for many years to come.

The research concluded that buyers significantly underestimate the number of jobs required to purchase their next van. Both personal and SME buyers expected to complete circa five jobs, whereas the actual number, according to Auto Trader, is around 20.

The report comes at a time when the online car marketplace is seeing record demand for vans. Last month visits to Auto Trader Vans reached an all-time high, increasing 47% on March 2019, while advert views increased 49%. This resulted in a surge in the number of van leads being sent to retailers, increasing 158% last month when compared with March 2019. 

March also marked the 15th month of consecutive price growth for used vans, increasing a record 22% year-on-year (YoY), far outperforming their car counterparts, which saw average prices grow 7% YoY.

Retailers could be missing out on this rapidly growing market, due to prevalent pain points for buyers, Auto Trader warns.

It says comparing different makes and models can be a very challenging process for buyers, often due to a lack of transparency or clarity in pricing or features.

Worrying about making the wrong decision was a key pain point for 80% of personal van buyers, with four out of five thinking the choice is simply too complex.

Like other aspects of the retail experience, trust is a major issue among van buyers too. Auto Trader found that 86% of personal buyers are concerned about being ripped off, whilst 66% of SMEs don’t know whether to trust a dealer.

Leanne Thomson, Auto Trader’s sales director, said: “Since the start of the pandemic we’ve seen the van market, both new and used, go from strength to strength, and it’s extremely reassuring that on the verge of forecourts reopening, demand has never been stronger.

“Our report highlights that many businesses might be missing out as result of inherent complexities or inefficiencies in the buying process. However, through small but impactful incremental steps, retailers can make the process of buying a van easier and faster for customers, and as a result, not only sell more vehicles, faster, but often build a long-lasting and profitable relationship.” 

The Auto Trader Van Buyer Report 2021 can be viewed at

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