Consumers ‘will soon buy cars in similar way to ordering groceries online’

Consumers will buy cars in a similar way to ordering groceries online within a decade, according to an industry trader.

Auto Trader said car retailers will adopt grocery-style retail models over the next few years to market and increasingly sell vehicles online.

It predicts that car dealers will still operate physical locations but they will no longer be used primarily as showrooms or to complete the sales process, the trader’s latest market report predicts.

Some 45% of car buyers said they would be happy to conduct the entire process online if they were paying with finance, increasing to 64% of 18 to 34-year-olds, the report said.

Auto Trader chief executive designate Nathan Coe said: “Dealerships certainly won’t disappear, but they will continue to evolve.

“Successful retailers will embrace technology, invest equally in their online platform as they do their physical one, and re-evaluate the physical elements of their cost base to run more efficiently.”

Car buyers typically visited five retailers in the past but this has now reduced to two, Auto Trader found.

Retailers who have digitised their operations have seen the time it takes to sell a car drop to less than 40 days, compared with an industry average of 80 days.

Online sales of cars are expected to pass one million globally next year and grow to six million by 2025, according to a recent report from Frost and Sullivan.

In 2018, the report said 618,000 cars were sold online, nearly double the number sold digitally in 2017.

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