The Rise in Popularity of Car Buying Websites

January 19, 2023

We explore how buying behaviour has changed in the automotive industry

Selling your car can be an agg; do you try and sell it privately or do you contact a car buying website instead? If you go for the latter, then where do you start and how do you know they’re reputable? 

The popularity of car buying websites is ever-increasing as the used car market grows by demand. Used car prices remain at an all-time high and the automotive industry doesn’t miss a trick. Classified advertising in its traditional form is dead in the water and that paired with the chore of selling a car privately, leaves plenty of room for online car buying solutions…   

What is a car buying service?

If you don’t work in the automotive industry and are reading this, you may be wondering what exactly a car buying service is and how you can benefit from it. Well, it pretty much does what it says on the tin; a car buying service is set up so you can sell your car easily and is designed to be less faff than selling your vehicle privately. 

The process often starts online (we mean, would you trust a company that doesn’t have a website in this day and age? No, we wouldn’t either!) where you will enter the reg of the vehicle in question to receive an initial (in some cases instant) valuation. 

Car buying company versus private sale on social  

If you’re in the market for selling your used car, then why should you choose a professional car buying company? Well for one, it’s far less hassle! Choosing to sell your car privately can be time consuming and come at a cost; if you want to do it properly, then you could end up paying to advertise the vehicle. 

Then there’s the condition of your car to consider too – especially if it has seen better days! Often a car buying company will still purchase your car if it’s damaged (you’ll have to check the T’s & C’s to be sure) although they will expect you to be upfront and honest about any damage as this will be reflected in the price offered. This is a big perk if the car you’re hoping to sell has a few dents and scratches.

Speed of purchase shouldn’t be sniffed at either – it’s not unusual to strike a deal with a car buying company within 24 hours of valuation, they’ll then transfer the money straight into your account and collect it soon after. 

How car buying behaviour has changed

As a nation, car buying behaviour has completely changed since the COVID pandemic hit, when dealers’ hands were forced to adopt and embrace a ‘buy online’ mentality to meet the demand of consumers. But this was by no means a bad thing. In fact, it meant that the automotive industry had to ‘level up’ in a retail market that is now consumed by online sales. 

As such, digital marketing agencies like ourselves got to work in developing e-commerce solutions that would ensure our car dealer clients were ahead of the curve. It wasn’t long before we’d created a two-step reserve online function and full end-to-end solution that could be plugged-in to any of our customers’ websites… and now this is very much the norm. 

Any other dealer in the UK that didn’t have access to this type of product was left very much in the dark – although they knew where to come for first-class solutions; hi there!   

How many cars are sold online in the UK?

Data from Google shows that 92% of car buyers do their research online before they choose to buy – so why turn down a captive audience? Nowadays, 360-degree turntable-type videos let consumers get behind the wheel without even needing to leave the sofa. This is just the first step of a car buying journey that can totally transform the way in which dealers sell their stock.

Research also concludes that over 50% of car buyers expressed feeling uncomfortable or anxious when choosing to visit a dealership in person. We’re sure you’ll agree that this is not a great percentage, especially given that 56% of them said that cleaning their homes was a preferred option to negotiating with a car dealer – eek! 

When it comes to selling a car, 54% of people surveyed said they would happily sell their car using an online car buying website. 

It probably comes as no surprise then that in the aftermath of COVID, online car sales have been booming. Due to ongoing supply chain issues of new cars, used cars have proved to be the dominant force, representing over 80% of car sales in the UK in 2021 when a whopping 7.53 million used cars were sold during the year. 

This goes some way to show that online car buying is no longer a trend, but is fast becoming the new norm.   

The future of car buying is online

Let’s face it, the internet has completely revolutionised the consumer car buying experience and love it or hate it, buying a car online is here to stay. That also includes the ever-popular car buying websites which are making it all the more easier for sellers to shift their vehicles. 

Virtual car showrooms seem to be the dominant force when it comes to attracting consumers. According to AutoTrader, 42% of people are more than happy to buy a car online without even seeing the vehicle, let alone test drive it. 

One step on from this, 69% of people planning on buying a car this year expect to be able to purchase it online. The key requirements of those surveyed chose online car buying as a preference because they sought a simple, efficient, and straightforward purchase process.     

Big boys versus the little guys

You’re no doubt asking yourself at this point what the best online buying websites in the UK are. Well, the answer to that really is open to interpretation and we tend to be a bit biased…

From Carwow to Cazoo to Motorway, you’ve no doubt heard of these brands and more than likely seen their adverts on TV or online. These are just a few of what we refer to as the ‘big boys’ of the car buying market. As such, they tend to have a monopoly on a large percentage of those wishing to sell their cars, but the key point here is that they aren’t necessarily dominating the market entirely – or the best choice.

Cue the ‘little guys’! Refusing to be undefeated in a bid to provide a fair, honest and straightforward car selling solution, we love championing an underdog. Just because a small one-man band business doesn’t have the budget to spend on in-your-face TV advertising and expensive sponsorship, doesn’t mean it’s any less proficient. In fact, you’ll often find that the little guys can provide a more hands-on experience, as opposed to feeling like you’re simply a number in the queue. 

Next time you’re in the market for selling a car, don’t just opt for the top results Google provides – remember that a majority of what’s shown to you on page one will be ads. Instead, why not check if there are any car buying services in your local area or ask for recommendations online. You’ll be surprised just how many motorists didn’t necessarily have a positive experience when using one of the big boys. 

Car buying solutions the way it should be

Here at 67 Degrees, we specialise in producing class-leading websites for automotive clients. The majority of our customers are car dealerships, but we also appeal to a growing number of car buying companies who want to elevate their brand. 

Much like those we do business with, we bring a lot to the party. Over and above everything, we understand that every customer of ours is different and each website we build therefore requires a unique and bespoke approach. We aim to transform a customer’s online presence through our innovative websites, e-commerce solutions and marketing solutions. 

Car buying companies such as Sell My Motor Car, Off The Driveway, and Sell My Car ASAP have chosen us to accelerate each of their brands. The result is a website that’s clean, functional and engaging, paired with a user journey that’s fuss-free and straightforward. 
Like what you see? Then you’ll love what else we’ve got up our sleeve – check out Our Work and let the designs do the talking.     

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