How Consumers Shop For Cars


Car Buying Trends for 2019

Have you ever thought about your customers’ path to buying a car? It takes a long time for a consumer to choose and purchase a car because they are so expensive. If you want to market your dealership in the most successful way, you need to understand the process that shoppers go through before purchasing a car. Most car shoppers feel nervous or uncomfortable at dealerships. According to the 2016 Beepi Consumer Automotive Index, 87% of Americans dislike something about shopping at a car dealership, and 61% feel they’ve been taken advantage of while there. No wonder people do their research so extensively before they visit in person!

Today, we’re going to show you the car buying process that consumers go through before they go to visit a dealership. Seeing the journey from the customer’s point of view will help you understand how to market yourself better to fit their needs.

How Consumers Research Cars and Dealerships
It usually takes about 5 to 12 weeks for a consumer to start their car research to when they finalize the purchase. The car buying process is more online, digital, and mobile than ever before. According to Autotrader, these are the activities that car shoppers do online the most:

  • Researching car prices
  • Finding what cars are listed for sale
  • Comparing different models
  • Figuring out their trade-in value
  • Locating a dealership


Consumers do their research on a variety of devices, which is why it’s so important to have a responsive dealership website. Google recommends that all sites should have a responsive web design because most searches are done on a mobile device.

People also do their research on different types of websites, including but not limited to:

  • Social media pages
  • Online business directories or review sites
  • Articles and blog posts
  • Dealership websites
  • OEM websites


According to J.D. Power’s study, the most popular social media sites for car shoppers are YouTube, DealerRater, and Facebook. Consumers also use Facebook and Instagram to post a picture of their new vehicle purchase. Social media, however, is not as big of an influence on your customers as your dealership website is.

How to Capture Your Customers Online
Your dealership website is your strongest asset, as well as your most powerful marketing tool. You will want your website to be Search Engine Optimized (SEO) so that it ranks on the first page of search engines and is easily discoverable by consumers. You will also want your site to load quickly. Users will exit websites and pages that take too long to load, which means that your dealership will be pushed aside if your site loads too slowly.

Once a customer has done enough research, they will usually narrow down to the top few cars they want to purchase or dealerships that they wish to visit. At that point, the customer is mostly set on their decision, and it’s hard to change their mind. The key is to draw in your customers before they get to the end of their car-buying journey.

Can your customers find your dealership online? That is the first connection that you want to make with your future customers. Aside from having a responsive dealership website, you will want to make sure that your site is optimized to be searchable, also known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There are different ways to improve your SEO, including local citations, on-site SEO, and PPC campaigns. Depending on your time and budget, various methods may be better for you, or AutoJini can help!

You should also utilize social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are all great places to market your dealership and cars online. Social media is also a great way to connect and communicate with your customers better.

Car shoppers search for vehicles, and their prices on the internet. Are you showcasing your inventory online? At AutoJini, we have a premium inventory management system that is easy to use and brings in more customers. We can import your inventory from any DMS or third-party site, and export to over 100+ data partners.

How to Give Your Customers the Best In-Store Experience
People want to spend their money where they feel appreciated and respected. Giving your customers an exceptional, friendly experience is the best way to seal the deal and sell your vehicle. There are different reasons why people don’t like to visit car dealerships, but the most common reasons include:

  • Pushy salespeople
  • Not having the exact car of choice
  • Busy paperwork
  • Anxiety from talking to people


Encourage your previous customers to give you feedback and use that to see how your sales team is doing. Customer service is the most crucial aspect of selling cars, so you want to make sure you’re giving your customers everything they need.

Are you ready to sell more cars? AutoJini is here to help. Call or contact us today! We are eager to talk with you. Our 18+ years of automotive marketing and website design experience have proven and effective results.

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