The car-buying process would be simpler and quicker if the content on auto industry websites was customised to be more relevant to consumers' specific car-buying preferences, according to a global Accenture survey released on 11 December 2012.
Another way of making car purchasing more efficient is the introduction of features such as Web chat and mobile-enabled websites, which are used widely in other retailing sectors.
The survey of 13,000 drivers in 11 countries found that consumers are turning to a variety of online and offline services to help them make their car-buying decisions because industry websites fail to satisfy their needs.
The survey was conducted by Coleman Parkes Research on behalf of Accenture. It was carried out online from August through September 2012 in multiple languages. The markets covered were Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and the United States. Interviews were conducted with 13,000 drivers, between the ages of 18 to more than 65, who have a vehicle that is no more than three years old.
"A consistent customer experience is vital to the online-offline sales process, an area in which the auto industry is notably lagging other sectors in the eyes of the consumer," said Luca Mentuccia, global managing director of Accenture's Automotive Industry Group.
Of the survey respondents who say they research their car purchases online before buying, 78 percent visit at least six websites or more first, and 15 percent say they need to browse more than 20 websites to get the information they seek. In addition, 75 percent say they still turn to more traditional offline media for the information required to make a car-buying decision.
Accenture believes the findings demonstrate a lack of integrated digital marketing among manufacturer and dealer sites in the automotive industry. More than three quarters (80 percent) of the respondents would like more intuitive, customised content made available to them, while 75 percent favour a process that will enable them to obtain more simplified information online. Nearly three quarters (73 percent) would like the comparison process simplified, and 68 percent would welcome the ability to chat online with a dealer.
"Consumers have made it clear that they want better online support, advice and personalisation when buying a car with consistent handoffs to the dealer when they are ready to visit the showroom," said Mentuccia.
"At a time when digital marketers are utilising algorithms to predict what online visitors want to know, automakers should be better able to shape Web content that is more user-centric," added Mentuccia.
According to the survey, most respondents (88 percent) also want easier and clearer pricing to help expedite the car-buying process, while 77 percent want dealers to provide them with a simpler way to configure a vehicle. More than three quarters (76 percent) would like to have the ability to compare additional options with the same automaker's product line and 75 percent would welcome more mobile-enabled websites. Additionally, 74 percent desire better integration between dealer sites and inventory search functions.
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