Article

Kirsty Hunt
Kirsty Hunt 7 December 2021

Online Car Buying Hailed as Positive Shift Towards Greater Inclusivity

The digitalisation of the used car sector has brought many benefits – but according to new research an overriding factor is that it has made the process of buying a used car feel more inclusive.

  • Online shopping has narrowed the ‘used car buying gender gap’ - attracting more female buyers
  • Consumers feel more empowered to be able to make right decisions
  • Buyers feel the process is more transparent and welcome less reliance on human attitudes 

The digitalisation of the used car sector has brought many benefits – but according to new research an overriding factor is that it has made the process of buying a used car feel more inclusive.

In a survey of used car buyers by MotorConnect.co.uk – almost three quarters of those questioned (72 per cent) agreed that buying a vehicle online felt more inclusive.

When questioned why, 69 per cent believe it removes any bias or assumptions by a sales person; 56 per cent think that it offers a wider choice and they are therefore more likely to find the car best suited to their needs; and 37 per cent believe that used car dealerships can be intimidating and would rather avoid an in-person experience.

Over half (52 per cent) of those questioned claimed they felt confident in finding the best deal online and did not need a sales person to help them navigate the process. This rose to 67 per cent in the 18 to 25 age group and 62 per cent of females.

The most favoured factors for buying online include:

  • Being able to search within budget parameters; clear technical specifications upfront and anonymity – searching for a car without revealing personal information such as age, gender and ethnicity. 
  • Online buying is also seen as more gender equal according to the MotorConnect.co.uk research.
  • Females, in particular, believe that online used car buying offers a more inclusive space. 66 per cent claim they find the process less intimidating than an in-person experience.
  • A similar percentage (67 per cent) of females, in the market for a used car, would prefer to complete as much of the transaction as possible from home.
  • Almost three quarters (72 per cent) would favour buying a car from a dealer who offered at home test drives and door-to-door delivery of their vehicle.

In line with the findings, there has been a significant shift in the number of females buying a used car according to industry insights. At digital-first used car business, Motor Connect, females account for 42 percent of all online car purchases in the past 12 months, this compares to a national average of 34% two years ago.

Lisa Corwood, Chief Information Officer at MotorConnect.co.uk, said: "It’s no secret that the pandemic significantly propelled the digitalisation of the used car market – but what is really interesting, is that this move to digital is showing no signs of slowing now dealerships have re-opened, and it is changing the way customers view the used car market."

"As a female in the used car industry one of my upmost priorities is making the buying experience as inclusive as possible. For some, ‘sales patter’ associated with the traditional used car sales person has been off-putting in the past and people say that they don’t want to be subjected to assumptions or bias, ‘hard sell’ tactics, up-selling of extras or bombarded with technical information."

"Instead they would rather take their time to research vehicles on their own merits and understand more about how it is going to support their day-to-day needs. Things like boot size, ease of getting their children in and out and in-car entertainment systems were more important."

"By taking a digital first approach, but with the added support of our experienced sales team, we are able to support customers who wish to have a helping hand during the process or customers can complete the full transaction online. This hybrid way of working is aimed at giving people the help where they need it, whilst offering them the autonomy to research their car based on their needs."

"What is clear from the past 18 months is that now is the time for the industry to shake off this long-held reputation as a male-dominated and intimidating environment and take the opportunity to develop an online offering that promotes inclusivity."

"Digital really does give us the power to tailor the buying process to meet the needs of all demographics – as such the opportunity is there to make it an inclusive buying platform that drives the sector forward into the future."

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