Online car sales - is the virtual showroom here to stay?

By Pye Motors

Enforced closures during the pandemic has pushed many of us online not just to research higher priced goods but also as a forum to purchase. None more so in the car industry, as a number of online only dealerships have entered the market to capitalise. Recent research from What Car? highlights that one in 10 car buyers are ready to complete their purchase wholly online, a marked change from before the pandemic.

Increased online sales don’t necessarily mean that local dealers are starting to miss out. The same survey highlighted that 50% of respondents were comfortable with the idea of buying online. This suggests quite a wide gap between those that liked the idea and those who would actually follow through with a purchase.

A follow up study, again from What Car?, found that three quarters of car buyers were still planning to buy locally with 84% believing it was important to support their local showrooms and garages.

Convenience is the main reason given by customers to buy local. A third of those surveyed said they would purchase the same car from their local dealer even if one further away offered a better price. An equal number of those surveyed were also willing to adapt their required specifications if their local dealer had a similar vehicle in stock.

All of the research suggests that the majority of those in the market to buy will continue to use a mix of online research and visiting dealerships. It’s therefore key that showrooms offer a high quality virtual option to cater for this new style of car shopping.

The growth of our virtual showroom is one we’ve looked to develop at Pye Motors. Online videos, tailored vehicle walkrounds and reserve to buy options have become part of our everyday customer offering and we don’t see them being removed once all restrictions are lifted.

We’ve taken ours a step further by developing our website so our sales team can provide online valuations for those looking to part exchange. We’ve also introduced a ‘coming soon’ section of our used car showroom so customers have the full picture of present and future vehicles so they can make an informed decision on what and when they purchase.

Virtual showrooms will undoubtedly continue but buying a new vehicle is still all about the experience of looking, buying, sitting inside and taking a test drive. Until the technology has moved on to offer that too, we will continue to welcome all to our dealerships.