Car dealers still considered most trustworthy despite rise of online-only retail

·2-min read

Car buyers would still prefer to visit a franchised dealership despite the rise of online-only retailers.

Dealerships were forced into online-only sales through the various pandemic lockdowns, while online-only retailers have increased in popularity in recent years.

However, a poll of 1,571 in-market used car buyers has found just 20 per cent would be ‘very’ or fairly’ confident in buying from an online-only dealership.

Car dealer
(Blackball Media)

That’s in sharp contrast to franchised dealers, which 94 per cent of buyers would be confident buying from. This was followed by 63 per cent for a car supermarket and 55 per cent from an independent dealer.

Rachael Prasher, managing director of consumer magazine What Car?, which completed the research, said: “Online-only retailers have made lots of headlines in recent weeks, and represent a new avenue for the industry to expand.

“However our research suggests that brand awareness is critical to consumers trusting in their services, and that even the biggest players in the sector have a lot more work to do on that.

“For now – and potentially the foreseeable future – the majority of used car buyers are telling us that they still prefer to purchase their next car from a dealer with a physical presence rather than purely online.”

The study found that the lack of confidence in online-only retailers wasn’t purely based on a lack of knowledge, as more than half of those polled said they had heard of one of the big three players; Cazoo, Cinch and Carzam.

The research also found that cash was the most popular way to buy a used car, with 72 per cent planning to pay for their next purchase this way. This was followed by 13 per cent taking out a bank loan and 11 per cent either leasing or financing the vehicle.

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