The retail car industry has been one of the last industries to fully embrace ecommerce.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many businesses that did not traditionally see themselves as ‘online businesses’ having to embrace digital change – and quickly.
We are starting to see (as happened with other industries) consumers and dealers becoming more comfortable with purchasing and selling a car online, or at least part of the transaction beginning online (e.g. researching or booking a car) and then the deal is finalised in the dealership.
This trend has increased because of covid-19 which had accelerated the move to ecommerce and we are seeing suppliers to the industry offering tools and resources free to help dealers make the transition to ecommerce.
Understanding consumer behaviour online is a key element for car dealers in reaching out to potential customers who are searching online.
To gain some insight into how the market currently sits let’s consider a simple search phrase – ‘Buy a car online‘.
‘Buy a car online’ is currently typed into Google approximately 150 times per day, 4,500 times per month or 54,000 times per year in the UK.
At current prices, it costs approximately £3.50 to purchase a click for this phrase to your website (e.g. if you are a car dealer) from Google.
We will look at search volumes on mobile phones, in particular, as the mobile phone audience is by far the biggest audience by device.
Which websites rank for ‘Buy a car online’?
The following table is a list of the top 100 websites that rank for the phrase ‘buy a car online’ in Google.
‘Buy a Car’ Top 100
|2||2||Buy a Car||https://www.buyacar.co.uk/cars/used-cars/475/buying-a-used-car-online||Car Dealer||http://www.buyacar.co.uk/cars/used-cars/475/buying-a-used-car-online|
|3||3||Auto Express||How to buy a car online | Auto Express||Online Magazine||http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-news/101422/how-to-buy-a-car-online|
|4||4||Car Supermarket||https://www.carsupermarket.com/||Car Dealer||https://www.carsupermarket.com/|
|5||5||Bristol Street Motors||Buy Cars Online | Online Car Dealers | Bristol Street Motors||Car Dealer||http://www.bristolstreet.co.uk/buy-online/|
|6||6||Autosave||Autosave | UK car supermarket | used cars for sale||Car Dealer||http://www.autosave.co.uk/|
|7||7||Carwow||How to buy a car online | carwow||Car Buying Comparison Site||http://www.carwow.co.uk/guides/buying/how-to-buy-car-online|
|8||8||Car Supermarket||https://www.carsupermarket.com/||Car Dealer||http://www.carsupermarket.com/|
|9||9||Auto Express||How to buy a car online | Auto Express||Online Magazine||http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-news/101422/how-to-buy-a-car-online|
|10||10||Car Next||Buy your car online | CarNext.com||Car Dealer||http://www.carnext.com/en-gb/buy-your-car-online/|
We can see that there is a great deal of information about buying a car online available.
Overview of the list
Few on the list could be described as ‘traditional car dealers’ and only one Bristol Street Motors is in the coveted top ten.
The most prominent name on the list is the new entrant Cazoo who are looking to capture the nascent e-commerce market and disrupt the industry.
Other new players in the market (e.g. Cinch) have adopted a similar advertising strategy with the emphasis being on ‘easy way to buy a car online’ or ‘cars without the faff’ – but also offering the customer the ability to conduct as much of the transaction online as they feel comfortable with.
Two factors, ecommerce adoption and ease of purchase has allowed new entrants to provide a new offering. It is interesting how many of the top 100 car dealers website’s do not rank well for digital health.
If we look at the top 100 car dealers it is interesting to see their position in this list. The list does not show that many traditional car dealers. This could be because dealer groups target local geographic areas rather than UK wide.
One of the benefits of full ecommerce is that a dealer can sell to anyone in the country.
Traditional geographic markets may in the future be less rigid.
Whilst the move to e-commerce has accelerated it is also significant that in a recent poll of motorists only a fifth have bought a car unseen.
75% of motorists have never bought a car unseen and maintain that they never will in the future.
Top Ten Search Rankings for the phrase 'Buy a Car Online'
A ranking in the position of one achieves a click-through rate that is ten times higher than a ranking position of ten.
The top ten websites % of visitors for the phrase ‘buy a car online’.
The following Pie Chart shows the % of searchers that the top ten websites obtain. As can be seen the first 2 positions will receive more than 50% of all searchers.