U.K.-based Auto Trader is extending its trial of Deal Builder to all used car retailers authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the U.K.’s financial services regulator.

Deal Builder, which allows car buyers to part exchange, arrange finance and reserve a vehicle online, has seen retailers double their conversion rates during its beta testing, according to the company.

The omnichannel solution has also reduced haggling and administration, freeing staff up to focus on car sales, it added. Once the car buyer has reserved a car, they can inspect, test drive and finalise their purchase on the forecourt if desired.

Deal Builder allows retailers to offer a blend of online and offline car buying: A survey conducted by Auto Trader found that 70% of car buyers — and 90% of those aged under 34 years — want to do most car-buying tasks digitally. However, 95% also want some kind of physical experience.

During Deal Builder’s 12-month beta trial, Auto Trader worked with 1,000 retailers, with more than 40,000 vehicles available to reserve online. As well as an increase in conversions, Auto Trader found that buyers completed online many of the tasks related to buying a car, with much higher purchase intent than traditional inquiries. Some top-performing retailers reported conversion rates of more than 80%. Retailers that participated in the trial found that nearly half of all deals were generated outside of normal trading hours.

Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s chief product officer, said: “Whilst automotive retail is fast evolving, there’s no doubt that omnichannel is the future, where the role of the retailer is more important than ever. For most people, buying a car is the second biggest purchase they’ll make, and the support and the physical experience that only a retailer can provide remains essential.”

“As well as the rapid growth in omnichannel, retailers face a dramatic shift to electric vehicles and changes in traditional retailing models. With so much change — research shows consumers are keen for a new way of car buying and many retailers across the U.K. are already making these changes — all retailers must evolve.”

Ryan Prince, a director of Motors Today, which participated in the trial, commented: “With Deal Builder, we’ve done deals with absolutely no contact over the phone whatsoever. And, because customers can do it seamlessly and in their own time, we’ve had deals through that we may not have previously.”

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