Car dealers’ websites coming up short for car buyers

Lisa Kuok
Car buyers want a customised online experience when browsing car websites and believe that car dealers are not making the best of digital marketing tools to provide that customisation.

Accenture's global survey shows customers don't think car dealers are making the best of the internet as a sales and marketing tool despite the wealth of technology available to provide a customised online experience for car buyers.

The poll of 13,000 drivers (of which 1,000 were Malaysians) in 11 countries found that car buyers want a simpler and quicker way to buy cars and believe that digital marketing is not being fully exploited by car dealers as a means to provide buyers with information they need in order to make a decision without having to go into the car showroom. The biggest grouse is that unlike other retailers, the content on auto-industry websites cannot be customised to provide targeted information, more relevant to the car-buyers specific preferences. Furthermore, online innovations like web chat and mobile-enabled websites are not available, with 68% of customers saying that they would like to be able to “chat” with dealers online in their search for more information.

The survey found that of the respondents who said they researched their car purchases online before buying a vehicle,

  • 78% visited six or more websites first
  • 15% visited 20 websites to get the information they wanted.
  • Malaysia respondents visited an average of 11 different websites
  • almost 1 in 10 Malaysia car buyers visited over 21 different websites.

In addition, in search of information, more car buyers reviewed online consumer feedback (81%) than car maker's websites (70%). Major influences that impacted car-buying decisions included advice from family and friends (53%), social media (59%) and offline information reviews (60%). Car dealers beware! One very unhappy customer's issues with their vehicle can make a negative impact on sales if the issue is not resolved to the customer's satisfaction.

“Consumers have made it clear that they want better online support, advice and personalisation when buying a car,” said Lee Won-Joon, Managing Director – Products Operation, Accenture ASEAN, “with consistent handoffs to the dealer when they are ready to visit the showroom.”

According to the survey, customer experience and engagement is vital to satisfy increasing customer expectations. Buyers want intuitive search customisation (80%), easier and clearer pricing (88%) and easier configuration/tailored offers (77%) with inventory search functions. Also, drivers in Malaysia expressed an interest in the following information available online: special offers (80%), after sales extras (78%), part exchange upgrades (77%) and special maintenance offers (72%).

From this global survey, car buyers around the world face the same frustrations about the current digital marketing of cars and the need for considerable improvement.

Finally, the study showed that car showrooms and sales people are not redundant. After checking information online, car buyers still wanted traditional face to face contact with sales people in the showrooms - to have a test drive and negotiate with a sales person.