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USED car buyers are indicating that the process of choosing their next vehicle from online classified listings would be made easier if they could read expert reviews of the cars on their shopping list.

According to recent research by Autotrader almost three in ten (28 per cent) Australians agree that the process of buying a second-hand vehicle could be improved through encouraging more independent reviews and one in five (20 per cent) say the process of buying a second-hand vehicle could be improved by bringing more of the retailing element/buying process online.

Nicole Laidlaw, head of sales Victoria and Tasmania at Autotrader told GoAutoNews Premium: “Consumers are open to change.”

“The past 18 months have been time of disruptive change for Australian automotive dealers and their networks. 

Nicole Laidlaw

“A combination of state and regional lockdowns, coupled with changing restrictions and reduced trading hours has redefined the way we approach generating sales and engaging with customers.

“In addition to innovations such as virtual showrooms, contactless test drives and building customer rapport through digital channels such as email, text messages and social media, there remains an opportunity for dealers to bring the final steps of the buying journey online, which include signing contracts and facilitating monetary transactions.

“While the resumption of face-to-face sales is more possible with restrictions easing across Australia, it’s important to understand the evolution of processes and the benefits of making the complete buying process more widely available online, particularly in this continually-evolving hybrid sales environment.

“Generally, lockdown has fostered a large increase in online shopping with the latest eCommerce insights from Australia Post showing a 23.4 per cent year-on-year increase in online shopping across all sectors including vehicles, motorcycles, trailers and automotive accessories.

“For dealers, this presents a significant opportunity to tap into a myriad of consumers looking to purchase new and/or used cars,” Ms Laidlaw said.

“With this in mind, we encourage dealers to mobilise the greater use of a variety of online tools such as vehicle price comparisons, a secure partial payment system or the opportunity to discuss and progress finance options virtually and in real time.

“This not only makes the online buying process more convenient but can also support customers in committing to a purchase. 

“In addition to being avid online shoppers, this new age of consumers is also highly informed with research also finding that almost three in ten (28 per cent) Australians agree that the process of buying a second-hand vehicle could be improved through encouraging more independent reviews.

Ms Laidlaw said that dealers who could provide a thorough history of each vehicle and arm consumers with a full and objective assessment of their first-hand experience behind the wheel stand to gain more than just rapport with customers. 

“This will also contribute to the building of trusted relationships in addition to ensuring potential customers have all the appropriate resources to progress their car buying journey,” she said.

“As we begin returning to normal trading across Australia, there is a strong opportunity to leverage learnings from the pandemic to enhance our current customer offering. Having access to greater online tools and purchasing options has demonstrated through the pandemic as a valuable and effective avenue for fostering sales.

“With the above in mind, it’s clear that dealer partnerships with online listing platforms like Autotrader offer a competitive advantage to build a strong customer network, now and in the future,” Ms Laidlaw said.

By John Mellor