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In the last year, a third of all online consumer interactions with new and used car content across manufacturer and automotive websites were made using a smart phone, compared to three years ago where only five per cent used their smart phone to research a car purchase. As of last month, this figure has risen again to 41%, an increase of over eight times as many, showing that mobile was important three years ago, but it has now become an essential platform within the car buying journey.
The use of devices as part of the car buying journey has dramatically increased over the last few years, as consumers have access to vast amounts of information before setting foot in a dealership. 97% of all UK households now own a PC or laptop, 79% use a smartphone and 51% own a tablet, with a third of the population owning all three. The number of full page adverts on Auto Trader’s marketplace consumers now view on mobile devices have increased three fold since 2012.
A study undertaken by for Auto Trader, the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace, by Trinity McQueen collated a mixture of qualitative and quantitative data drawn from over one thousand car buyers. This data showed clear patterns in the type of device used at different stages of the car buying journey, with consumers on average using at least two devices during their research.
Auto Trader, Insight Director; Nick King said; “Smartphones are more likely than other devices to be used at forecourts for validation purposes. Buyers are increasingly drawn to their mobiles for timely answers to specific questions on areas like price and specifications, and to reassure themselves that the retailer is one they can trust. So the question of usability appears – is your site optimised for mobile? Is the content quickly accessible? As our patience levels shorten, consumer expectations increase from other positive mobile experiences, and our device usage changes, it becomes increasingly clear that car buyers need to find the information you have available, quickly and easily. When did you last check your mobile website? If your site isn’t mobile optimised, consumers won’t find your cars – it’s as simple as that.”
We commissioned this research to take a better look into the role of multiple devices in the car buying process. As we suspected, the study confirmed that online research is key for buyers, with walk-ins as the first point of contact between well-informed buyers and retailers in over half of all transactions. Consumer
forecourt research broadly fell into four categories: questions about pricing, questions about stock, questions about finance and questions about the dealership itself.”
The research also revealed more insight into smartphone usage and that this tends to be far more targeted than research done using a PC or laptop. 27% of buyers are now using a smartphone for initial research, but this rises by the time a buyer has made a decision to visit retailer, so a mobile optimised website is key for retailers to ensure they advertise their stock in front of the largest possible audience.
The research suggest that laptops and PCs can be more suited to the research phase where buyers compare and contrast brands, models and vehicle types, as larger screens make it easier to compare large amounts of information, across multiple sites. Whereas, mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are better suited to seek out specific information during shorter sessions, such as when multitasking or inspired by external stimuli, multi-tasking and as the consumer moves closer to the purchase point.