Accenture: Car buyers want better digital experiences

11 May 2015 4 min. read
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Three quarters of car buyers are considering conducting the entire car-buying process online, new research by Accenture shows. According to the consulting firm, the results highlight the need for OEMs and dealers to pursue a more aggressive digital strategy and enhance their online engagement with consumers to avoid losing possible customers.

Professional services firm Accenture recently released a new report into the digital wants of car buyers, titled ‘Automotive Survey: What Digital Drivers Want’, for which it surveyed 10,000 car owners in eight countries: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan and the US.

Survey across eight countries

The research shows that digital is becoming more and more entrenched in the car buying process, with 80% of consumers planning to buy a new car using some form of digital technology to research their preferences and 62% initiating the car-buying process online, including checking social media channels, before entering a dealership. Three quarters (75%) of respondents even consider conducting the entire car-buying process (including financing, price negotiation, the back office paperwork, and delivery) online if given the opportunity. This number is down from the 93% in 2012, which according to the consulting firm could be explained by that as some consumers have had more online purchasing experience and now foresee potential problems/weaknesses.

Conducting the entire purchase of a car directly online

Accenture explains that the results of the survey point to the growing need for automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers to increase their focus on online engagement with consumers. “Consumer interest in making car purchases fully online or through new mechanisms such as online auctions suggests that OEMs and dealers should consider exploring those options,” explains Christina Raab, Global Managing Director for Digital Consumer Services in Accenture’s Automotive Practice. “They have the opportunity to develop a multi-channel presence to meet varied and additional demand, increasing profitability.”

More than half (53%) of respondents are interested in access to an interactive touch display that provides information on the available models during a visit to a showroom and almost half (48%) in taking a virtual test drive at the dealership. 57% are interested in info on digital security options and the same percentage in a Wi-Fi hotspot in the car. Other options car buyers are interested in are the ability to transfer data to and from a mobile device (53%) and transferring music, contacts and calendars from mobile to the car (54%).

Digital customer experiences at dealership/showroom

Of the respondents more than half say they would like to see the online channels in the automotive industry improved improve in order to make buying a new car online easier, with interests in more pre-sales information (9%), model specific details (11%) and pre-sales advice (12%). Information on pricing and financing are particular seen as weak, with 15% mentioning finance options, 16% trade-in value, and 17% the availability of pricing of add-ons online. However, the research indicates that the weakest link is aftersales, with 20% of respondents unhappy with this option online.

Weakest digital experience in car buying process

Commenting on the survey and the consequences for OEMs and dealers, Raab says: “The impact of the digital customer is becoming pervasive, disrupting the traditional car-buying experience and the competitive landscape. This is clearly supported by the fact that many would consider conducting the entire car-buying process online. In order to grow business in this environment, OEMs and dealers will need to pursue an aggressive digital strategy online, in the showroom and in aftersales, while creating a seamless, integrated experience to accommodate all customer needs.”

Online car sales
Capgemini also recently highlighted the rise of online car sales and reported that 97% of car buyers use the internet for research and 44% that actually purchased a car over the past year did so online.