Traditional online vehicle searches with drop-down boxes are too limiting for customers looking to buy a used car, according to research from iVendi.
The company found that where online used car buyers are given the option to type into a free field rather than using old-style drop down boxes, fewer than half will specify a manufacturer and model.
Just under half (45%) of customers would search for a particular car, while 27% would search lifestyle terms such as “small SUV”. Some 15% would choose a combination of the two, such as “BMW convertible”.
James Tew, chief executive of iVendi, said there has only been one key innovation in online car searches – the ability to search by monthly payment. “Otherwise, most dealer websites and car portals are still using drop-down boxes.
“The fact is that, unless someone looking for a used car knows exactly what they want, it’s not a good way of finding something. So for those who want a Ford Fiesta and know they can afford one that is three years old, it works. For others, it is likely to be a frustrating process that delivers many, many useless results.
“The challenge for future search technology is really to provide highly relevant results for car buyers who have a much less defined idea about what they want.”
Tew explained that traditional search tended to deliver too many irrelevant results for customers, instead of a small number of targeted outcomes.
“The three fundamental factors that drive the majority of car purchasing journeys are vehicle choice, location and affordability. Good search should be all about helping larger numbers of customers find results that meet their needs in all of those areas.
“One way of doing this is the use of intuitive, lifestyle language that is closer to the way a significant number of consumers conceive of their car buying preferences. For example, searches could be made for ‘German prestige SUVs’ or ‘cheap family car’.
“There are also innovations to be made in how finance and location are integrated into the results, again with the intention of putting the right car on the screen in front of the customer earlier in the process. It’s an exciting area.”