The fastest-growing source for consumers’ vehicle research are the websites of online used-vehicle retailers, such as Carvana and Vroom, according to Cox’s survey. In the study, 25 percent of surveyed consumers reported visiting the websites of the new-form online retailers, as Cox refers to them, while vehicle shopping. That’s up from 17 percent of consumers surveyed in 2020 and just 3 percent of those surveyed in 2017.
Those visits are still far outnumbered by visits to third-party websites, such as Autotrader or CarGurus, and visits to dealership websites, according to the survey. Visits to third-party listings sites dipped to 75 percent last year from 79 percent in 2020, and dealership websites saw an uptick from 52 percent in 2020 to 56 percent in 2021.
To stay competitive, Ton said, dealerships need to offer online buying and home delivery options on their websites similar to digital used-vehicle retailers — capabilities they’re already offering more of than they once did.
“As a dealership, you kind of have that advantage in the sense that, ‘Hey, you can come in person, or we can do everything online with you,’ ” she said. “It gives people options to transact the way that they want to transact.”