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The Internet Continues To Influence The Auto Shopping Process

Sep 30, 2014

According to the recently released J.D. Power 2014 New Autoshopper Study, the more time someone spends on the Internet during the car-shopping process, the more dealerships they are likely to visit. The study examines the use of digital devices (computers, smartphones and tablets), websites and apps during the car-shopping and research process. The study found that, on average, automotive Internet users are shopping online for nearly 14 hours prior to buying a vehicle. Individuals who spend 12 or more hours on the Internet, end up visiting an average of 3.3 dealers prior to buying, while those who shop between five and 11 hours, visit an average of 2.5 dealers. Shoppers who spend between one and four hours online, visit an average of two stores.Another study, commissioned by and titled, The Digital Influence: How Online Research Keeps Auto Shoppers in Control, found that just half of car shoppers tend to contact a dealership before they physically enter a showroom.A summary of the report found that most shoppers felt they had access to so much information online that they could control the dialogue with the dealership on their own terms.While the Internet is playing a larger role in the car-shopping process, the dealership visit itself is still very important. Seeing, touching and test-driving a vehicle are still important to many buyers and can’t be replicated by an Internet search.In the past, consumers relied heavily on dealership staff to educate them about the vehicles for sale. With the proliferation of online resources, consumers are more educated about a vehicle’s specific attributes before they set foot in a dealership showroom.The study found that 68% of shoppers used online sources (online searches, dealer websites and independent research sites) to find a dealership. Outdoor ads and radio advertisements were identified by 9% and 8% of respondents, respectively, as other ways to find a dealership.