90% of Car Shoppers Prefer a Dealership Where They Can Start the Buying Process Online

This is according to a new survey released by CDK Global. According to the report, “New research from CDK Global found that car shoppers are willing and likely to start the car buying process online. In a recent survey, CDK found that nearly 70% of shoppers expected to find the ability to configure a payment on a dealership website, and 83% indicated that online buying technology would help them narrow down their vehicle choice and determine what is affordable.”

Consumers today are increasingly choosing brands who offer the best customer experience. And when it comes to choosing a dealership, consumers prefer one that offers the ability to start the car buying process online. The CDK Global research study also found that among those same consumers, almost 60% felt more comfortable starting this process on a dealer’s website compared to third-party sites.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • 80% of shoppers say they would likely configure a payment online.
  • 60% said they would configure a payment and provide contact information.
  • Of those surveyed, more than half said they would configure a payment and start the credit process.

Consumers are more demanding and have more options today and dealerships must step up and cater to their customers and prospects with exceptional customer experiences. In addition to being able to start the buying process online, additional studies indicate the huge competitive advantage dealerships gain when meeting consumer expectations.


  • 54% of consumers would buy from a dealership that offers their preferred experience, even if it didn’t have the lowest price.
  • 72% would visit dealerships more often if the buying process was improved.


  • 56% of shoppers would buy more cars if the process was easier.
  • Auto sales could rise about 25% if the retail experience improves.
  • 99 of 100 automotive shoppers begin their purchase journey expecting it to be a “hassle” driven in large part by their experience, and that of friends/family, with retailers seeking to control the buying process to the retailer’s objectives.

Capgemini also released a report indicating a strong correlation between customer satisfaction and loyalty particularly for dealers. Only 10% of customers, not satisfied at all, say they would likely or very likely buy their next car from the same dealer. 87% of highly satisfied customers would purchase the same brand again and 85% would buy from the same dealer.

Clearly there is huge opportunity for dealership to increase revenue among car buyers by providing a seamless and personalized customer experience across channels.

First You Need To Know Who Your Customers Are

A single transaction has the potential to turn into a lifetime relationship. Improving the buying process and offering other amenities to streamline the auto purchase process are certainly good incentives to get new prospects into your door, but getting consumers to drive off the lot in a new vehicle requires knowing who they are.

Today’s household typically has more than one car parked in the driveway, teen drivers may be ready for a first vehicle, and family and friends are looking for recommendations. Rich opportunities exist to cultivate more revenue from a single purchase – if you show your customers that they matter.

To do so, you need the right data insights to get to know them. If your customer data is sitting in different databases such as a billing, customer service calls, service departments, and so forth, be sure to consolidate all this data into one CRM system or marketing database. As each of these customer details come together, you can quickly gain a better understanding of your customer segments.

Third-party data sets add additional value by rich insights to enhance your customer view. Any number of data elements can be appended to your records, such as age, income, occupation, and much more. Specialty automotive data sources can further drive the most relevant offers by knowing the make, model and year of the current vehicle they drive, whether or not they are in positive equity and data about other vehicles in the household.

By understanding your customers on a more personal level, including what motivates and drives them to purchase, personalized offers and the most relevant messages can be delivered – creating a great customer experience by showing your customers that you care.

The Biggest Changes Need to Come in Four Main Areas

According to an Autotrader’s Car Buyer of the Future study conducted last year, there are 4 main areas consumers would like changed.

Financing Paperwork:

As further proved by CDK Global’s study, consumers want some serious improvements to the paperwork process. According to Autotrader’s research, “Nearly three fourths of consumers, 72%, want to complete the credit application and financing paperwork online. The key factors driving this desire are to save time at the dealership (reported by 72% of those who favor online paperwork) and to have less pressure while filling out paperwork (reported by 71 % of those who favor online paperwork).

A separate study conducted by Cox Automotive in 2014, showed that the time buyers spend in the F&I office averages at 61 minutes, more than two thirds the total amount of time they want to spend at the dealership (90 minutes). Moving paperwork online and enabling consumers to complete it on their own time would greatly enhance the in-dealership experience and cut down on the time they spend in the dealership on the day of purchase.”

Deal Structuring:

Consumers also indicated that they would like to see changes to the deal structure process. Over half of consumers (56%) want to start the negotiation process on their own terms and preferably online.

Test Drives:

The majority of consumers (88%) stated that they won’t purchase a vehicle before first test driving it – although they seek improvements to the current process. The majority reported that they do not like the current process, which typically involves being accompanied by a sales person. Instead, they seek a more convenient test drive process with less pressure, such as being able to test drive different vehicles across brands in a single place or taking a test drive with a product specialist instead of a sales person.


Improvements to the vehicle service process are also important to consumers, with 83% indicating the importance to access a network of local service centers that honor service agreements. Consumers seek convenience and off those who prefer local service networks, 76% would prefer to go to a service center close by, and 63% want to be able to service the vehicle anywhere.

Implementing strategies to make the consumer the center of the auto purchase process brings huge rewards to dealerships willing to make the change. With 66% of consumers saying that they would be much more likely to buy from a dealership that offers their preferred experience, the opportunity in new revenue simply can’t be ignored.

To learn more strategies on how to target and acquire new customers, download our Automotive  & Dealership Marketing Success Kit.

Automotive Marketing Success Kit

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