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Finance must not prove a hurdle for tech-savvy online car buyers, opinion

Ben Maguire, commercial director, Caerus Capital

The most recent Auto Trader Market Report (November 2020) which investigates the long-term trends in digital retailing, shows that consumer appetite towards buying​ online is increasing.

There is real demand from consumers for more of the car buying process to be available to complete online and among consumers who have bought a vehicle in 2020, many would have liked to have completed more of the jobs digitally.

Among those that had purchased a vehicle in the last six months, many would have preferred to complete more processes online, suggesting there is real demand for the industry to move towards digital retailing.

So what’s preventing consumers from buying digitally? The research reveals that one of the main hurdles is that consumers find it difficult or impossible to organise finance online, with over a quarter (28%) finding it not that easy to do online and 15% finding it extremely difficult to do, while 7% believe it is not possible to organise finance digitally.

However, there is a real appetite amongst consumers to arrange finance online outside the dealership, with 32% wanting no human support, while 34% want some human support. Just 34% want to sort finance out at a dealership.

Clearly dealers have a great opportunity to improve their finance offering, so that consumers can make digital applications, quickly and easily. However, if a dealer website does not feature a range of finance options that are easy to find and understand, the consumer is likely to go elsewhere for the right deal.

In order to get finance right online, dealers need to provide transparent, consumer-friendly information about the finance products and options available on their websites. Quick and easy-to-complete online application forms allow consumers to apply for finance from the comfort of their own surroundings and at any time of the day.

Forms need to be simple to boost the number of applications, but they also need to capture all the essential information, to ensure it is a quality application.  There are a variety of white-labelled finance application forms available for dealers that enable consumers to complete a finance application, while viewing all the stock. 

It's vitally important that dealers give their customers the ability to apply for finance while they are on the dealer’s site. As soon as customers are forced to shop around to complete their finance, the dealer risks losing the customer to competitors.

As we finally start to ease back into life post the pandemic, consumers are going to be limited in the time they have to perform tasks like finance applications.  If they have the ability to do this while on a dealer’s website, it will only increase conversion rates.

Author: Ben Maguire, commercial director, Caerus Capital

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