Consumers continue to rely heavily on dealers to find the perfect vehicle for their budget and lifestyle, yet the transaction process is still taking too long, according to an annual survey by CDK Global, Inc.
Since June 2022, CDK Global Research & Insights has surveyed car buyers across the U.S. each month, giving dealers an inside look at the consumer experience and expectations in purchasing a vehicle. While the Ease of Purchase score remained steady averaging 83% for the year, warning signs remain for dealers looking to improve the customer experience. Most notably is the length of time to buy a car or truck, with 54% of shoppers becoming disenchanted having spent over three hours to complete the process. With 66% of consumers on average relying solely on dealerships throughout their vehicle purchase journey, auto retailers need to shorten the transaction to under two hours at a minimum to positively impact a buyer’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), according to CDK’s annual data tally.
“Despite the expansion of direct-to-consumer retail model across the U.S., consumers still prefer the brick-and-mortar dealership experience. We’re seeing it the strongest among first-time buyers, with 70% of customers relying on their local auto retailers to complete the entire journey at the dealership,” said David Thomas, automotive industry analyst at CDK Global. “Improving the car-buying process to two hours or less can significantly boost a dealership’s NPS score and help ensure lifelong customers for sales and service.”
Customers Still Finding Cars in Transit
CDK’s annual Ease of Purchase survey showed new vehicle inventory issues continued to impact dealerships throughout the past year, with just 36% of buyers locating the vehicle they wanted in stock for January 2023, compared to 52% of consumers the following month. Overall, in-stock vehicles averaged 44% at dealerships – a significantly low number post-covid. Purchasing in-transit cars will remain a growing trend, with 30% of consumers willing to wait for their desired make and model.
Since its inaugural debut in June 2022, CDK Global’s Ease of Purchase survey data also found:
- Nearly 43% of consumers visited two dealerships when shopping for a vehicle, with 47% seeking guidance from an expert before deciding on their purchase.
- Conversely, 30% of customers visited only one dealership before making their purchase, with 34% preferring to select their vehicle and negotiate the best possible price, including trade-in value.
- On average, less than 2% of those surveyed bought a car fully online, never exceeding 3%.
- Ordering cars from the factory declined steadily with 28% of shoppers in June 2022, dropping to 18% in recent months, with the average falling near 21%.
- Rising interest rates impacted vehicle financing with the ease of credit application dipping to a record low of 57% in January 2023 before recovering to the yearly average of 62% in June 2023.
About the CDK Global Ease of Purchase Scorecard
The CDK Global Ease of Purchase Scorecard is a monthly national sample average of 350 consumers who purchased new vehicles within the last three months. The interviews are conducted online by CDK Research & Insights.