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Car-Buying Satisfaction Climbs To All-Time High As Process Moves Increasingly Online

Jan 26, 2021

As auto dealers move more steps of the retail process online, consumer satisfaction is hitting an all-time high, according to the new Digitization of End-to-End Retailing study by Cox Automotive. Those who were “highly satisfied” with the overall shopping experience reached 72% in the latest study, up from 60% in 2019. The average vehicle buyer now visits only 2 dealerships in the vehicle buying process, down from 2.7 in 2016.

It’s not only consumers that are seeing the benefits of a process that is becoming increasingly digital. Dealers are also seeing advantages from a more efficient, streamlined purchasing process.

The Digitization of End-to-End Retailing study, conducted to measure and understand the shifts in consumer preference toward a more online purchase process, also found:

  • 1-in-3 franchised dealerships offer all the purchase steps online. In 2020, 69% of franchised dealers added at least one digital step, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 74% indicated their customers have used digital retailing tools more since the pandemic began.
  • Among the most popular activities for shoppers to complete online or at home: Finding information on incentives; calculating monthly payments; applying for credit; and finalizing the vehicle price.
  • 64% of shoppers want more of the purchase process to happen online, compared to the last time they bought a vehicle.
  • 61% of franchised dealers note that digital retailing efforts are allowing them to spend less time on a sale and more than half believe it helps them improve the customer experience.
  • 75% of dealers agree that digital retailing provides shoppers a more customized experience, a key to higher satisfaction with the shopping process.
  • 80% of franchised dealers surveyed indicate they plan to offer more parts of the purchase process online in the next 1-2 years.

While interest in digital retailing continues to grow, the auto dealerships’ physical location still plays a critical role in the vehicle buying experience because car buyers  want to spend time at the dealership, test driving the vehicle and setting up their new vehicle after purchase.

To learn more, download the Digitization of End-to-End Retailing study from Cox Automotive.