New Independent Study Finds Majority of Car Shoppers Open to Purchasing Online
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New Study Finds Majority of Car Shoppers Open to Purchasing Online

The automotive retail landscape is changing and so too is buyer demand and behavior. To address and better understand automotive consumer expectations, ACERTUS, a tech-driven automotive logistics and services company, turned to Material, a modern marketing services firm, to launch an independent study on the current core characteristics of online car buyers. The report shows that a staggering 80% of car shoppers are now open to an online vehicle purchase, a 50% increase from pre-COVID numbers. Those most receptive to a virtual car-buying experience are younger males in metropolitan areas looking to purchase economy vehicles.  

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According to recent reports, 2020 will be the fourth-largest annual decline for the U.S. auto industry since 1980 – behind a 19.1% loss in 1980 and 18% and 21.2% declines during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The COVID-19 pandemic led to significant disruptions to the automotive industry, including supply chain issues, carrier capacity constraints, inventory shortages, vehicle pricing challenges, increased demand, evolving customer expectations, and a reduced dealer footprint. While the pandemic created market stagnation across the auto industry, it also opened up opportunities for those willing to shift to a new online sales model. The ACERTUS-backed study highlighted the main customer preferences and pain points when approaching an online car purchase.  


When it came to potential issues, many of those surveyed had concerns about assessing vehicle condition and potential damage before making a purchase. A large number were also worried about transporting the vehicle. Some of the top barriers to purchase include: 

  • Inability to test drive before purchasing 
  • Shipping costs and vehicle damage  
  • Ability/process of returning the car if it does not meet customer expectations upon arrival 

“We applied our rigorous, data-driven approach to uncover powerful insights into car buying behaviors and the immediate need for dealers to service the stay-at-home economy,” said William Billiter, ACERTUS co-founder. “For dealers to thrive and survive in this new era of digital retailing, it is critical that they engage a partner with the infrastructure and expertise to help execute a home delivery and pick up program. With nearly 25 years of experience and a full suite of logistics services, ACERTUS is uniquely positioned to help dealers of any size deliver.”  


In addition to the main raised concerns, there were several other concessions buyers would look for when ordering a car online, including: 

  • Images and full vehicle history available 
  • Full assessment and inspection of the vehicle upon delivery 
  • Title and registration completed before delivery 
  • Variety of shipping options available, along with vehicle tracking while in transit 

Offering an online purchasing process that provides a full assessment of the vehicle and easily coordinates shipping, title and registration and a fail-safe return process is the surest way to entice buyers to purchase online, according to study data. For more information on the study, or to learn more about ACERTUS, visit


The Material team surveyed more than 1000 potential car buyers over a period of two weeks in December of 2020. Respondents must have purchased a vehicle in the past 12 months or intend to purchase a vehicle in the upcoming 12 months. To participate, respondents must be shared or sole decision maker in purchase decision. Learn more about Material, visit

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