Stages in the Car Buying Process

Before making the final purchase, car buyers go through numerous stages of the “Car Buying Journey,” or buyer cycle. You can’t wait for potential customers to come to you in order to introduce your dealership. You need to engage with customers early in the process since they interact with a variety of touch points before going to a dealership.


In the last few years, the vehicle industry has undergone a tremendous evolution. The industry is evolving due to innovation and digitization, which is also affecting consumer perception and behavior.


Before visiting a dealership, almost 60% of customers spend time online doing their homework. One of the most significant financial decisions a customer will ever make is whether to purchase an automobile. As a result, purchasers deliberate over their choice for a considerable amount of time.


Between the initial research and the actual purchase, an automobile purchaser may engage in over 900 digital transactions, according to Google. Therefore, auto dealers need to make sure they use all available digital car-buying touchpoints to sway customers’ choices.


What is the process of buying a car?


The procedure a consumer goes through to buy a car is referred to as the “car buyer journey.” Businesses in the automotive industry examine the customer journey map for purchasing a car to identify key touchpoints and how to enhance them to boost sales and customer loyalty. This journey is not a linear series of events; it has dynamic phases that change the process of buying a car and the experience of the buyer after the sale.

Auto Buyer Journey Study for 2022


Cox Automobile conducted a study of more than 10,000 vehicle consumers in 2022 (6,118 buyers and 4,150 shoppers) for the Automobile Car Buyer Journey 2022 Study. Let’s examine the top 10 tendencies the report identified as well as their ramifications.

According to the survey, satisfaction with the car-buying process has declined to pre-pandemic levels, with the decile being steeper for used automobiles than for new ones. Dealerships now have a chance to placate customers by using online solutions that manage inventory in real-time and transparent pricing.


Buyers are conducting more online research as a result of inventory shortages, which OEMs and franchise dealers may take advantage of by focusing their online marketing efforts on conquest audiences.


With 80% of consumers wanting to buy their cars totally online, online vehicle sales are becoming more and more popular. As a result, it makes sense to incorporate omnichannel marketing and the creation of digital showrooms into your automotive ecommerce strategy.


Consumers must have their trust when choosing a loan, and 82% of consumers say familiarity is important when making a choice. Lenders need to prioritize trust and foster a customer-centric culture in order to increase customer loyalty.


For their automobile purchases, 49% of purchasers go to lender websites. Lenders might offer strong shopping tools in their online showrooms to attract new customers.


According to the report, customers can save almost two hours by completing all financing stages online before going to the dealership.


Before visiting a dealership, 67% of consumers buy an F&I product, and 53% do their research on various F&I products. This means that including F&I products online in the form of product descriptions and online pricing is advantageous for dealers.


Online shopping is preferred by EV purchasers to save time, and by ICE buyers to avoid feeling rushed or under pressure. This means that during their online EV transactions, buyers should feel in control and confident, and merchants should make sure this happens.


In 2022, one out of every five new cars bought had a pre-order. Because they could add or remove features as they pleased, 74% of buyers selected this. Websites can incorporate pre-order target marketing to make the purchasing process more convenient.


Pre-ordering a car is more satisfying to 79% of consumers than a conventional purchase is. Consumer trust in your business can be raised by improving the pre-order process, which includes vehicle monitoring and providing touchpoints during the waiting period.


Factors that Influence the Car Buying Process


Although the paths used by automobile buyers might vary greatly, three stages govern the steps performed by the clients prior to making a purchase and how they see your brand. Below, these phases are covered.

Important events that start the car-buying journey


The motivation for the purchase determines how long or urgently the purchase is done and how the car-buying process starts. The main causes have been identified as a change in lifestyle, a permanent breakdown of their car, routine maintenance, or simply the desire to get one.

Whether a person is a seasoned shopper or a cutting-edge automobile buyer will also affect their buying technique.


A seasoned consumer is aware of current market products and trends and has a firm grasp of their needs. They have a pre-selected set of vehicles when they start the car-buying process, so model research isn’t as necessary. To avoid losing customers to the competition, dealerships must take steps to increase engagement.


A forward-thinking customer conducts an in-depth study to learn and understand every aspect of buying an automobile. This kind of buyer may be drawn to a certain dealership or vehicle. They might have a wish list for the new car, but they might need something particular.

The business’s capacity to manage a customer’s car-buying journey depends on its capacity to identify the customer’s type and reason for purchase.


investigation and other options


The early phase of the car-buying process is characterized by optimism and excitement about discovering the ideal vehicle. Consumers will evaluate sources, create lists of options, and start their searches there. Before making a selection, they consult friends, ask for their opinions on different cars, and they might even rent the car they intend to buy.


The information from these sources plays a significant role in determining whether the customer’s journey with that model or brand during the car-buying process continues or ends. In addition to the first stage, research is conducted to determine what options to add or eliminate throughout the car-buying customer journey.


Entrance Into the Dealership


Customers go to the dealership when they are ready to take the next step and have more confidence in their decision(s). The encounter they have at the dealership can make or break their decision; it is an essential step in the car-buying process. Before making a purchase, a customer typically visits two dealerships. Early on, customers dread going to the dealership because they lack confidence in their information and worry that the salespeople might mislead them.


Although a customer may visit a dealership for informational purposes, most of the time they do so when they are prepared to make the actual buy. The level of service and the focus of the team are essential at this point. The buyer wants to know that they made the best choice in a car and that the dealer is reliable.


Three Steps in the Car Buying Process


1. Awareness


The majority of buyers are uninformed of the vehicle they intend to acquire before they start their adventure. They search online for a suitable car that suits their needs and budget.


A whopping 95% of automobile buyers consult the Internet for information. Buyers thoroughly investigate the many makes and models in various price ranges during this period.

The purchaser searches through many resources at this time to identify the ideal automobile for them.

  • Sites that Compare Videos and Blogs
  • E-books
  • posts on social media

You (as a dealership) need to make sure that you can guide them through the process as they conduct their web research.


Additionally, you must give them comprehensive details on potential vehicles they might be interested in purchasing. They will then be able to go to the next phase and make an informed decision as a result.


Use high-quality photos to aid online vehicle exploration by customers. The research process can be aided by 360-degree films and several car photos taken from various perspectives. 90% of car buyers believe that photographs are crucial when making a decision.


2. Consideration


Buyers are aware of the market’s solutions and are aware of what can address their difficulties before they reach the consideration stage. Buyers will research the best offers and their possibilities in greater detail at this point.


At this stage of the car-buying process, prospective purchasers will obtain a wide range of data. By the time it is over, they are aware of every option that could work and meet their requirements.

Car dealerships can take advantage of the chance and contact potential customers using social media or Google Ads during the buyer’s consideration stage. Utilizing digital resources can influence clients’ purchasing choices in your advantage.


Additionally, at this point, clients should feel assured in their choice to buy. Although 40% of customers are more likely to buy a car based on pictures they see online rather than seeing it in person, they typically prefer going to dealerships.


As a result, vehicle shops are able to employ high-quality images and videos to sway potential customers.


Use photographs of clean, slick, and high-quality cars.


To gain a better understanding, show several car perspectives.


In the case of pre-owned vehicles, use hotspots to draw attention to dings and scrapes.


To create immersive experiences, use 360-degree interior and exterior spin videos.


What types of photographs are crucial during the car-buying process?

photographs of the cockpit and dashboard are crucial to new car purchasers, whereas used car buyers prioritize odometer and vehicle condition photographs.


3. final choice or purchase


The buyer is at the conclusion of the car-buying process now. The customer is now prepared to make the purchase. However, some people are still debating where and how to purchase the vehicle. Even if the prices are higher, more than half of the consumers prefer to purchase from a dealership that offers their chosen experience (including aftermarket).


Additionally, purchasers don’t want to deal with hassles or spend hours at the dealership filling out paperwork. More than 70% of purchasers prefer to finish their financing and credit application papers online.

Develop strategies for each stage of the car-buying process using this as a reference. You can connect with your target audience at each step during their purchasing experience, whether it is digital or not, using these data from leading industry surveys.


The buyer finally completes the transaction and accepts delivery of the automobile at this point.


Consider the following factors as you make your decision as a buyer:

  • Make the purchasing procedure simple.
  • Move all of your papers online.
  • provide timely

“Being efficient with the processes may endear the dealer to the potential customer given the limited time that the buyer is willing to spend at the dealership.” — Deloitte.

No leads were lost. reduced overhead.
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