Progressive sliced up the results of a survey of 501 people who bought cars in person at dealerships and online, and rendered the results into consistent results and graphs. Based on the 251 people who transacted entirely online or through a dealership’s website, and the 250 who transacted face-to-face only, there are two big takeaways. The first is that online shopping, which still represents only a small percentage of overall car sales, is growing rapidly in terms of acceptance and actual transactions. And remember a few years ago when there was an ominous feeling that millennials preferred their phones to cars and saw no need to own a vehicle when there were so many other options? No more. The second takeaway is that millennials are a big part of online sales growth.
The past two years have forced a ton of brick-and-mortar businesses online, including dealerships. Some have cannonballed the depths of the internet with everything from home test drives to digital documents. Some had a salesperson’s son create an ugly webpage listing outdated inventory that didn’t always have pictures. Overall, however, online shoppers expressed more joy with the process than showroom shoppers. Compared to 78% of buyers who were very satisfied with buying a car online, only 58% of in-person buyers felt the same satisfaction. This has also impacted trading and funding. Eight percent of online shoppers were very satisfied with the trade-in process, compared to 57% of dealership visitors; 70% of online shoppers gave the financing process top marks, compared to 53% of customers told to “walk into the office” and wait for the seller to chat with the CFO.
In terms of who got the majority of online business from survey respondents, Carvana earned the money from 21% of respondents.
Looking at youth versus age, less than 27% of buyers under 40 purchased cars from a dealership. Over 57, almost 80% of buyers prefer to look someone in the face (and hide) before depositing money. Between ages 40 and 57, Progressive said the split was nearly 50/50. Dealership visitors cited the ability to test drive a car as the top reason for visiting a storefront, while for online shoppers, finding the exact car they wanted was the top reason for going digital.
Check out the full results on the Progressive website. Another development was that online shoppers tend to do a lot more research and haggle. More than half of online shoppers viewed three or more sites before purchasing, compared to 24% of in-person shoppers, and 15% of these hardcore online shoppers were more likely to argue over price than those who browsed less than three sites.