A recent CarGurus survey of 1,104 car buyers showed that consumer sentiment towards the dealership experience has shifted significantly as a result of COVID-19, with many buyers understandably hesitant to visit dealerships in person anytime soon. To adapt to this sudden shift in shopping behaviour, dealers are adopting new technologies, particularly in three key areas:
Offering more contactless services
Not surprisingly, the contactless features launched by CarGurus in response to the countrywide shutdowns have seen a swift uptake, with 43% of CarGurus customers now offering one or more of these services. Virtual appointments rank as the most popular contactless services, with almost one-third of all paying dealers now offering them (32%). These virtual appointments allow dealers to offer safer purchasing options while continuing to effectively market their cars.
Adopting new ways to communicate with buyers
With 76% of prospective buyers preferring to shop from the comfort and safety of their own home, dealers must find new ways to engage with them directly. To help support this real-time communication strategy, CarGurus recently launched an integration with popular social media platform WhatsApp. In addition to experiencing faster response times to their enquiries, buyers are able to engage directly with dealers on a platform that many of them use frequently in their daily lives.
Providing more digital retail solutions
Buyer openness to purchasing cars online has increased significantly in recent months. Previously, just 33% of buyers were open to purchasing a car online, a number which has almost doubled to 61% in the most recent sentiment survey. Perhaps more telling, 33% of those surveyed are not just open to an online transaction, but would actually prefer it.
As buyers increasingly conduct research and make purchases online, dealers’ adoption of new technologies is key to succeeding in today’s tech-driven automotive industry. It’s unclear how long the pandemic-related shifts in shopping behaviour will last, but one thing is for sure: buyer demand for contactless services and digital retail solutions is here to stay.
To learn more about changing consumer sentiment during this unprecedented time, download the full CarGurus COVID-19 Sentiment Study.