Extensive research calculated the costs of an interested party who comes to a car showroom to choose a new car. It showed that there are different types of customers. An uninstructed motorist who absorbs information only at the dealer and requires several test drives. The other extreme is the interested party who finds out everything on his own and doesn’t even want to visit the seller. The first one is literally priceless for a car dealership.
Car dealers are going through tough times. They could sell far more, but there is nowhere to take it. Added to this is electromobility, which requires expensive reconstruction of the sales and service facilities. To make matters worse, manufacturers are slowly but surely switching to a new type of sales – the car showroom no longer figures in the role of a seller, but only as a point of sale.
The study, which was commissioned by the German Motor Vehicle Trade Association (ZDK), and whose detailed results are available to the Aktuálně.cz editors, reached a clear conclusion. In order for car showrooms to survive in their current form and into the future, only the contract with the car manufacturer will not be enough for them. 4,800 people interested in a new car from six European countries took part in the research: France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Belgium and Poland.
The study shows that potential car buyers can basically be divided into three groups. On the one hand, there is an engaged customer who is characterized by high activity during the entire purchase process. He collects a large amount of information about different brands from magazines and the Internet, asks a lot of questions and wants to test drive the cars several times. For this type of customer, it takes 55 days to decide to buy.
On average, an interested party, whom the study describes as “partially committed”, takes 33 days to think about it. It also collects information about the spotted car, but it is of a rather superficial nature. He uses online channels and magazines only sporadically and usually has no general interest in advice and test driving.
The ideal partner for car showrooms is the third type of customer who received the “less involved” box. It is characterized by low activity in solving the purchase process, it is practically not interested in the seller’s advice, as well as the test drive. Internet and printed media will be used at most once when making a purchase. However, as a customer, he can make a decision the fastest – it is done in an average of 27 days.
While the less engaged customer is typically over 50, lives in a small town and is interested in high-volume brand cars, the engaged customer is between the ages of 17 and 49, lives in the center or suburbs of a large city and is interested in premium products. Less engaged customers usually visit only one dealer during the buying process, while highly engaged customers go through an average of four car dealerships during the decision-making process.
The behavior of the individual groups results in significant differences in the costs that car dealerships have with the customer until the contract is concluded. The most expensive is the committed type, using mainly printed media, who obtains information through intensive personal contact with the seller. He visits different dealers several times in a row and wants to test as many engines as possible during many test drives. His shopping method will cost 122,000 crowns if he chooses from high-volume brands. For premium cars, the costs reach 144,000 crowns.
Such high numbers result from the fact that the car showrooms visited by the engaged customer are usually located in a large city where they have high structural costs. However, if a committed buyer searches for information on the Internet in advance, the whole process will be cheaper: 92,000 and 105,000 crowns respectively.
By far, the salesperson has the least amount of work with a less committed prospect who is oriented on the Internet. He usually comes to the store well-informed, if at all. He does not require a test drive because he knows the brand well. In his case, the purchase process costs from 30,000 to 35,000 crowns. However, if the same interested party does not use the Internet, the seller will be a little more expensive: at 45,000, or 52,000 crowns.
The study points to the fact that even if there are customers shopping online, they are still in a significant minority. According to the results of the survey, only about ten percent of shoppers do not want to involve salespeople in the purchase process.
However, this is contrary to the idea of car companies, which would like to sell their products to customers on the Internet without intermediaries. Škoda from Mladá Boleslav is already testing the so-called agency sales method, in which the car showroom is only a point of sale, on the Norwegian market – interested parties there can buy the Enyaq model in this way.
However, Skoda in Norway still gives a choice between the Internet and the dealer. The American Tesla, which is one of the pioneers of agency sales, does not even offer another option. The customer has to serve himself on the Internet and only sees the car live when he goes to pick it up.
Other car companies have been eyeing this sales method with envy for several years. Dealers, to whom the manufacturers dictated the architectural form of car showrooms in the past, would, however, lose part of their profits by changing distribution channels. They then logically have to drive it elsewhere, for example by increasing the hourly rates for service.