ON-LINE shopping has come of age in Britain as new figures reveal a surge of car-buying on the web – defying a decline in purchases from traditional dealerships.
Even as the traditional car market has struggled to repeat the growth of recent years, on-line car sales have boomed during 2017.
With the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reporting both new and used car sales bumping along around the zero growth mark this year, on-line sales have been growing at an unprecedented pace.
Buyers are switching to purchasing cars on the web in record numbers, with one online platform reporting orders up by 66% compared with last year.
BuyaCar.co.uk expects online car-buying to continue growing next year too, despite the overall slowdown in the UK car market.
One of the most remarkable aspects of this year’s growth in on-online car sales was the surge during the summer months in particular, just as the traditional market slipped into decline compared with the same months in 2016.
For example, April saw a very sharp dip for traditional sales compared with a year previously, while BuyaCar.co.uk achieved more than 20% growth on April 2016. The following months then saw that gap widen, as BuyaCar.co.uk surged ahead, as the market slid below last summer’s performance.
Austin Collins, Managing Director of BuyaCar.co.uk, says the shift in focus to online car buying by many motorists reflects growing confidence in the ‘Amazon-like’ experience of clicking to purchase. This is especially true of people who are too busy to visit multiple dealers or less confident in the environment of a traditional dealership.
Research consistently shows that women in particular are in the vanguard of the swing to buying cars online. For three successive years BuyaCar.co.uk has reported growth in female customers around double that for men.
In 2015 BuyaCar.co.uk’s female customers increased by 58%, compared with a 29% increase among men. But last year the growth in female customers surged by 75%, while the increase among men was 22%.
Austin Collins dismisses suggestions that the days of the traditional dealer are numbered, however, pointing out that online motor retail platforms work in partnership – rather than to replace – most professional dealers.
He said: “People used to say no one would want to buy cars on-line and many dealers saw the possibility that they might as a threat, but how times have changed.
“Now we are seeing record growth in direct car sales to online shoppers and the dealers from whom we source the cars are enjoying that boost in an otherwise challenging market.
“The on-line car buying experience is popular with record numbers of people who enjoy being able to research and specify exactly what they want from the comfort of their home and especially among those who aren’t completely comfortable in the traditional dealer environment.
“The growth of BuyaCar.co.uk during a time when the overall market is fairly stagnant shows the on-line motor retail sector is maturing. And the benefits to consumers who prefer clicking to buy and dealers who use an on-line partner to boost their sales show that this is a genuine win-win for everyone.”