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Study reveals how consumers use digital retailing

A new online survey commissioned by PureCars points to the importance of digital retailing and which aspects of it consumers are most leveraging, approximately one year into the pandemic. 

The online survey was presented to more than 2,000 automotive shoppers across the U.S. during March 2021, and is meant to offer retailers a sense of how and where consumers are leveraging new digital retailing technologies and solutions.

“Since we now understand the effects the pandemic has had on the car-buying process, it’s good to start analyzing where consumers are most interested, and the changing role digital advertising is playing in driving people to the showroom,” said Jeremy Anspach, Founder and CEO of PureCars.

The study shows that the digital retailing tools most frequently used are the trade-in estimate tool (71%), virtual test drive (64%), contactless delivery options (61%), build your vehicle (57%), lease/payment calculator (52%), and the financing app (46%).

On price and payment trends while shopping, 48% of consumers said they still budget by total vehicle price, while 42% budget by monthly payment. And 46% of respondents said they included the value of their trade-in when budgeting for their next vehicle. Another 31% of consumers said the dealership offered a slightly different payment onsite as advertised, according to PureCars.

In terms of advertising trends, 58% of consumers said the dealership had either a slightly different vehicle on their website as advertised, or a completely different vehicle — which can have an impact on customer trust and retention. 

As for what is pushing some consumers to visit their dealership, 76% said they visited their local retailer after viewing an advertisement in the form of an online video (YouTube). This was followed by streaming TV (72%), social media (71%), and search via Google (70%). PureCars said only 32% of consumers reported visiting a local dealership after seeing or hearing an ad on traditional media broadcast/cable TV, radio or newspaper. 

On vehicle delivery and online purchase trends, the company notes that 29% of respondents said they had their vehicle delivered to them directly, compared to the 30% who said they picked up their car at the dealership (essentially the same). Another 26% said they would have purchased their vehicle completely online, had the dealership provided the option.

Although not all consumers are ready to do their entire car-buying process online, the survey reveals a number of opportunities for dealerships that do offer a range of options and services, which can help boost engagement from consumers and profits for retailers.

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