Savvy shoppers tend to do a lot of research before heading to a car lot. Whether they're looking over color options or sifting through engine specs, motorists typically spend a lot of time reading reviews and scoping out write-ups of prospective models. This has resulted in a much more informed pool of buyers, which is changing the car-shopping process.
It's easier to make decisions
AutoTrader recently conducted a study to determine how drivers approach buying a car. According to the study, so far in 2015 about 72 percent of car buyers reported that they purchased the vehicle they initially wanted when they arrived at the dealership. That's an increase over the 66 percent who said they did last year.
What does this mean? Essentially, it indicates that buyers are doing plenty of research ahead of time, which ensures they are well-informed as to their options. Barring any last-minute surprises at the dealership, they tend to know what cars fit their budget and needs, making shopping much easier.
"Over the past several years of conducting this study, we've seen significant changes in car buyers' behaviors, particularly in how they are arriving at their purchase decisions," said Jared Rowe, president of AutoTrader.com. "The Internet is providing an unprecedented level of transparency for car shoppers, enabling them to make informed car buying decisions that they can be confident about."
Buyers conduct their own research
The study also focused on how much time people were dedicating to research. Used car shoppers spent an average of 16.6 hours shopping, with about 77 percent of this time - or 12.7 hours - devoted to online channels. They are most likely looking for pricing information, vehicle comparisons and details on where they can find certain models.
This research can heavily influence which car drivers end up buying. According to the data, less than 30 percent of people have a specific model in mind when they begin the process. They may come across special promotions, average car repair prices or other tidbits of information that impact the bottom line and their decisions.
"Buyers, and in particular, used car buyers, rely on the Internet to inform their car buying processes," Rowe stated. "The more information and transparency we, as an industry, can provide online, the easier it will be to help car shoppers turn into car buyers."
People still lose patience
Despite the fact that many buyers are well-informed, car shopping can still take a lot of time. Not only is this an inconvenience, but it also decreases overall customer satisfaction.
A second study from AutoTrader noted that buyer satisfaction reaches its highest point within the first 90 minutes of a transaction. After that, it starts decreasing, hitting a low mark after about 2.5 hours. While a shorter process would be more enjoyable for buyers, it's going to take time to check off all of the essential tasks. The average time spent on the sales process is about 53 minutes, and the time spent on the vehicle appraisal was an average of 43 minutes.
No matter what, buyers should strive to remain calm, cool and collected as they shop around for cars. A steady mindset can help you take advantage of incentives and special deals, all while negotiating effectively.