The Top Three Things Customers Look for When Buying a Car


The buyer’s experience is a critical component of any retail experience; by 2020, it will surpass product and price as a vital consideration of purchase. Buying anything, particularly a big-ticket item like a car is an emotional experience. Human beings are emotional creatures.

In today’s world, people are finding themselves busier than ever before. In some ways, technology has made our lives more comfortable, and everyday tasks that used to take hours now happen within a fraction of the time. As technology has made parts of our lives faster and easier, we’ve responded by filling our time with more and more activities. 

Time is the only thing we all have in common. Time is precious. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Buying a car is an emotional experience – too many, it’s equivalent to having a tooth pulled. Why is that? It takes FOREVER, for one thing. Time is like money; spend it wisely.

Consumer expectations and the shopping experience have drastically changed with the dawn of digital retail. Customers aren’t comparing their exposure to other car dealers. They make comparisons to Amazon®, Best Buy,® Domino’ s®, and Uber®. But the vast majority of car dealerships haven’t yet evolved along with them. Dealerships, at least the way they are typically run, create an atmosphere where tension, worry, and frustration quickly diminishes deal enthusiasm. 

So, how exactly has digital retail changed the car buying experience, and what do customers look for when buying a car? Here’s what car dealerships need to know about the changing landscape of customer expectations, online car sales, and how they can evolve and thrive in this new business climate. 


1. Knowing the Real Cost


There are very few shopping experiences, especially in the U.S., where haggling and negotiation are an integral part of the process. Most items for sale have a set, non-negotiable price that is straightforward. Haggle-free is rarely the case when someone tries to purchase a new car. Most customers realize that the sticker price isn’t the actual price, and this can frustrate customers and make them feel uncomfortable and out of their element when buying a car. It erodes critical customer trust. 

Digital retail presents a more transparent look at cars true price and satisfies the requirements of the logical mind. See how digital retail works. It makes the emotional part of the buying process far more pleasant and less anxiety-inducing. Dealers that promote their digital retail solution see market share increase, higher gross profit per vehicle, and better CSI. 

Trust is critical for fostering customer loyalty, increasing retention rates, and also improving essential word-of-mouth advertising. 


2. Convenience


It can take as long as 7 hours to buy a car. In most cases, it’s the credit decisions that require the longest time to process. According to FICO, over 60% of consumers will seek outside financing through online sources before their next purchase to speed up the process. For many people, waiting a long time to buy a car and find out if they qualify for a loan is a nerve-wracking experience. 

Some may think that buying a car is more practical than emotional. It’s the emotion that wins out over practicality when it comes to convenience decisions. Amazon isn’t the cheapest place to buy things, but it’s the easiest. Target® trained us with self-checkout – waiting in line is time-consuming! It doesn’t necessarily make practical sense, but we are like, “Ugh, forget this line, I’ll go check myself out.”

In the age of the one-click buy, people hate waiting. If it’s possible to make the car buying process faster, easier, more convenient, and pleasant for customers, why not be one of the first dealers to provide these benefits? 

3.Third-party Sites


The way consumers shop for any item has drastically changed. Online car sales aren’t pie-in-sky, “wave of the future” unjustified optimism. A Google study concluded that 95% of shoppers research their car online before entering the store. Shoppers stated that their sales experience is the primary brand loyalty influencer. As dealership visits decline from 5 in 2005 to less than two today, brands have fewer chances to influence shoppers.

There’s a significant opportunity to join the digital retail wave and influence shoppers before visiting your store. But it has to happen online – on your website, so third-party sites do not capture your customers!


Early Adopter


For car dealerships, being an early adopter of new car buying technology is an excellent way to differentiate your business and increase market share. Your customers will thank you for it. 

AutoFi allows customers to:

  • Select the model they like
  • Evaluate the price
  • Get an accurate trade-in value
  • Add aftermarket products
  • Receive multiple lender offers
  • Get a credit decision at lightning speed


Today’s modern car shoppers want transparency, efficiency, and convenience in the car buying experience. Be an early adopter of online car sales. Contact AutoFi today to learn more about how our digital retail platform can grow your car dealership business.


Read more: Learn how outside financing is the real threat to F&I profits.