There has been a lot of reports recently that quote anecdotal evidence that customers are shopping online, rather than going to a dealership.
Dealerfloor met with Hannes Oosthuizen, Consumer Experience Manager at Cars.co.za, to find out if the research bears this out.
Cars.co.za conducts an online survey to track consumer behaviour and brand preferences for their annual Cars.co.za Consumer Awards, Powered by WesBank. This survey has been ongoing since 2015, and in 2019, over 10 000 consumers completed the questionnaire.
“When it comes to buying from a specific dealer, we ask customers if the choice was informed by reputation, convenience (that the location is easy to access or the only option), if it was based on the best deal available or if it was related to an online search or advertisement,” says Hannes.
“Over the past couple of years, and especially in 2019, the number of customers who chose a dealer based on ‘convenient location’ or ‘previous experience with the dealership’ has declined, while ‘service reputation’ and ‘online advertising and availability of a specific vehicle’ have increased.”
To better understand these shifts, Cars.co.za and their data partner Lightstone Consumer, indexed their findings in 2018 and 2019, against those of 2017. This analysis showed that online search was eight times more significant in 2019 than in 2017.
“One should keep in mind that these findings refer to our research in 2019, and that it has in all likelihood increased at an even faster rate during the lockdown period in 2020, as more customers were stuck at home and Internet research became the only way of shopping for a car,” says Hannes
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