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It should come as no surprise that today’s consumers turn to online resources to make purchases. The convenience and variety available at their fingertips makes this a no brainer. When we consider car shopping in this increasingly digitized age, it’s a widely known fact that today’s car buyers start their journey online, primarily focused on conducting research. Knowing where they are online is paramount in ensuring your inventory is front and centre throughout the top- and mid-funnel stages of the purchase journey.

Our recent examination of the car buying journey found that consumers consider online automotive marketplaces, like, as the primary resource in their quest to find their next car. With a wide variety of vehicle types, makes and models, spanning budgets big and small, online automotive marketplaces enable them to search for exactly what they’re looking for, while providing the tools and aligning to the trust factor they demand.

Online automotive marketplaces are the portal to your physical showroom

The study uncovered that when car shoppers are in search of information, online automotive marketplaces continue to be one of the top online source across both used (78%) and new (45%) shoppers. When we consider factors that ultimately influence the purchase, 80% of used car shoppers and 60% of new car buyers find automotive marketplaces to be influential on their final decision. Maintaining a prominent, strong and always-on presence as well as optimizing your inventory listings to attract car shoppers at crucial points along their car buying journey remains a key ingredient of success.

Information Sources Used in the Purchase Process
Influence of Information Sources on Final Purchase Decision

Toggling from online to showroom and back is commonplace

Both new and used car buyers visit and engage with inventory listings hosted across online automotive marketplaces multiple times throughout their purchase journey. The study found that 78% of used car buyers visited an online automotive marketplace an average of 15 times before arriving at their final purchase decision, while 45% of new buyers visited an average of 9.4 times before taking the leap. Most consumers spend over an hour on online marketplaces each time they visit, comparing features and prices, looking for the best deals, and reading reviews.

Visitation of Online Automotive Marketplaces
Interaction of Online Automotive Marketplaces and Dealerships

Automotive marketplaces also play a significant role in driving awareness of a particular offering within a model range. Approximately 1-in-5 car shoppers first became aware of the model they purchased through this online source. Consumers continue to use online automotive marketplaces to engage in deeper research after their initial contact with the dealership and even following the dealership visit. Today’s purchase journey is everything but linear, thus, ensuring your inventory is placing on automotive marketplaces is that much more important to drive visibility, engagement and impact across all stages of the funnel.

The increased usage of the internet has resulted in a series of pivots in the car buying journey. What’s more, the pandemic resulted in lasting shifts to the automotive landscape, forcing the hand of dealer operators to align, adapt and alter their strategies on a dime. What’s remained a mainstay with car shoppers is the dependence on and the trust they place in online automotive marketplaces – taking advantage of the power of this most commonly used resources throughout every stage of the car buying journey ensures that your offerings are front and centre with car shoppers near and far.

Key Takeaways

  • Online automotive marketplaces are a key touch point in the purchase process; car shoppers visit marketplaces multiple times throughout their journey, even after the dealership visit.
  • The purchase journey is not linear; online automotive marketplaces play a part in all stages – ensure your inventory is exposed online, as this is fundamental for awareness and reach.
  • Online automotive marketplaces are the primary resource used across used and new car shoppers.
  • Both used and new car shoppers find online automotive marketplaces influential on their final purchase decision; maintaining a strong presence and ensuring inventory is well merchandised is vital to attracting shoppers at critical points in their journey.

Source: DIG Insights Vehicle Path to Purchase Research Study August 2022, n=1369.