Is the car buying process easy or difficult? — Peter Kahn & Dave Thomas | CDK Global

On this edition of Inside Automotive, we’re pleased to welcome Peter Kahn, Senior Director of Market Research at CDK Global and Dave Thomas, Director of Content Marketing at CDK Global. Today, Kahn and Thomas discuss the Ease of Purchase Scorecard, a monthly consumer survey focusing on the car buying process, vehicle availability, and current challenges customers face.

The Ease of Purchase Scorecard encompasses every step of the car buying journey, from shopping around to actually finalizing the purchase. Dave says that typical monthly metrics give a lot of insight into the state of the auto industry, but historically have not measured consumers’ sentiment regarding their vehicle purchases.

The simple question the Ease of Purchase Scorecard asks, according to Dave, is, “Was [the car buying experience] easy or not?”

Peter reports that the September 2022 survey found that 82% of respondents said “Yes” when asked if their car was easy to purchase – an increase of three percent from just one month earlier. He also notes that 64% of respondents who bought a previous car from a dealership reported their recent purchases were easier.

While there has been an uptick in online sales across all industries, Peter points out that between 65% and 70% of shoppers still both start and end their car buying process at the dealership. Overall, at this time only between eight and ten percent of transactions do not end at a dealership.

Dave reports customers have mostly been satisfied with their trade-in experiences, but they still report challenges with negotiating prices. Specifically, only 53% of respondents reported they thought the trade-in aspect of their car buying journey was easy.

According to the most recent Ease of Purchase Scorecard, most consumers reported spending more time than expected (45%) or as much time as they expected (40%) at the dealership. On the contrary, 16% of respondents stated they spent less time there than they thought they would.

Peter’s guidance to dealers is that they should understand consumers want to close the deal quickly after they are informed of all of the terms, understand them, and agree to them. He reports most customers have been able to complete the car buying process within two hours but would still prefer the process to move a bit faster.

Despite widespread inventory shortages, approximately 40% of customers reported they were able to find the vehicle that they wanted at the dealer, and those who couldn’t were able to direct order the cars or find one that was on its way to the dealer.

Dave notes that while inventory numbers improve, customers may be able to find the exact vehicles they want on the lot and, in turn, this could help cut down on the time they have to spend at the dealer.

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