Digital investment not a priority for many dealers

01 March 2017

  • 57 per cent of dealers are not prioritising investment in digital technology this year
  • 81 per cent of dealers admit that customers use digital platforms before visiting a dealership
  • New staff and upgraded premises identified as investment priorities

As the first cars with the new 17 registration plates roll off forecourts across the country this morning, new research reveals that many motor dealers risk missing opportunities and falling behind due to a lack of digital investment.

Figures from Black Horse show that upgrading their digital offering isn’t an immediate priority for a significant number of dealers, particularly smaller independent dealerships.

The survey from the UK’s largest independent provider of motor finance revealed that less than half of dealers (43 per cent) list new digital technology as a critical investment area this year.

This is despite recognising the importance that digital platforms play in attracting new business, although the research does suggest that this is particularly true for smaller dealers.

At the same time, almost three-quarters of dealers (73 per cent) claim that customers have carried out extensive online research and decided on the car they want to buy before visiting a dealership.

One in four dealers (25 per cent) said they plan to invest in their premises this year and a further 29 per cent plan to recruit more staff.

Richard Jones, Managing Director of Black Horse, said: “Given the importance of digital in the car-buying process, it is a little surprising to find that some dealers have no immediate plans to invest in this area. Our figures show smaller dealers seem particularly reluctant to do so and so this could be down to economies of scale and affordability. However, changing customer habits and behaviours mean the challenge exists across the board. So it should be a priority for all dealers to continue to find a balance between the human interaction that only a showroom visit offers, and the technology that supports this.”

“We are playing our part by continuing to work in partnership with dealers, large and small, to leverage our own technology such as our mobile calculator and new website to help drive customer traffic into showrooms, but I still think there is more that could be done to embrace digital technology.”

“Consumers are increasingly using the internet as the starting point in their journey to purchase a new car and dealers should look to capture prospective customers at this point. Those dealers with a compelling, user friendly platform will stand out from competitors because bricks and clicks will be the most successful model for years to come.”