More than a third of buyers comfortable buying their next car entirely online

Saving time and not having to negotiate face to face are among the benefits buyers see in shopping online

More than a third of in-market car buyers are comfortable with the prospect of buying their next car entirely online, according to the latest research from What Car?.

In its latest weekly poll of 8678 in-market buyers, 35.6% said they’d be comfortable purchasing their next vehicle entirely online. Female buyers were found to be more hesitant than males; just 28% are comfortable to purchase their next vehicle via the Internet, compared with 37.2% of males.

When asked to explain their main reason for potentially buying online, nearly a third of all buyers said they already purchase most goods online, making a car the next logical choice. A fifth of buyers also preferred negotiating for a price online rather than speaking face-to-face with a dealer, and 15.3% said it would save them time compared to visiting dealers.

For the two-thirds of buyers who aren’t comfortable buying online, What Car? asked what dealers can do to make them more relaxed about buying through the Internet. More than a third of respondents (35.6%) said they’d like to see no-quibble money-back guarantees available, giving them the right to hand vehicles back if they’re unsatisfied.

The current Consumer Rights Act (2015) gives buyers a 30-day window to return vehicles if they are of unsatisfactory quality, not as described or not fit for purpose. However, some retailers have begun introducing guarantees on cars, giving buyers up to seven days to hand them back with no questions asked.

Another 35.7% of buyers said they would still like to test drive the vehicle, but with the car being delivered to their house, while 10.5% wanted total transparency over stock vehicles listed online so they could accurately research the best options from home, without having to visit retailers.

What Car?’s research also found that 38.9% would skip visiting a dealership entirely if they could have a one-to-one walkaround of a car with a product expert online. The gender split was more equal here, with 34.3% of women willing to substitute a dealership visit with a one-on-one video tour, compared with 37.8% of men.