Most car buyers in U.K. prefer to buy a vehicle after visiting a dealership and speaking to an advisor, a survey commissioned by EBay Motors has found.

Its latest Consumer Insight Panel study found 70% of in-market buyers prefer the full in-person dealership experience and want to view and test drive their new car at a showroom and, when they are ready to purchase, buy it from a dealer. The research found that 19% of potential buyers plan to visit a dealership to view and test drive cars and then buy them online, while just 11% prefer to view and purchase cars solely online.

These findings suggest that the number of consumers looking to use a pure online car buying service like Cazoo or Cinch has not increased significantly in the last two years: 14% of respondents said they would be very comfortable purchasing a car through this channel, up only marginally from 13% in 2021.

The online channel is more popular among younger buyers, with almost 40% of Gen Z car buyers saying they prefer to transact online, according to the EY Mobility Consumer Index.

“Despite the rollout of digital car buying services during the pandemic, we have not seen an accelerated move towards buying cars unseen online,” said Lucy Tugby, marketing director of EBay Motors Group.

“For most customers, the preferred buying experience remains unchanged; they still want to visit dealerships to view and make their purchases in-person. That said, online purchases — either after visiting a showroom or unseen — are still valued for their convenience by a quarter of buyers.”

“Customers expect to be able to conduct varying degrees of their buying journey digitally, and it is significant that nearly a fifth say they prefer to visit a dealership first and complete the buying process online. For dealers this means being flexible to customer needs and offering a mix of hybrid and fully digital online buying services.”

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