Glass's: Car buying is diverging

A split between those who buy cars almost entirely online and those who prefer going to physical car auctions is increasingly pronounced

Glass's: Car buying is diverging

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations at Glass’s said the extent to which people are beginning to identify themselves in these ‘tribes’ was surprising. He said: “What has surprised us is the extent to which trade buyers are increasingly seeing themselves as a member of one of these camps and the lack of understanding between the two. Online buyers can’t see why you’d want to trail around the country visiting auctions and auction buyers don’t understand how online buyers learn about what is happening in the market without visiting auctions.

“We are not saying that the trade is split into two camps – probably the majority of dealers use both acquisition routes to some extent – but there has been, we feel, a definite and interesting divergence.

Pontin said there were advantages and disadvantages to both sides. Online buyers tend to be more comfortable with technology, and can use the internet to access a huge pool of stock, he said. However because they don’t physically see cars before purchase, they are dependent on condition description.

In contrast, he said, physical buyers tend to be older and see themselves as more savvy. The situation is reversed from online buyers, as physical buyers are able to see more limited stock options, but are better able to assess potential buys.

He added that younger car buyers tended to belong to the online group, and older buyers fell into the physical buying camp. This split mirrored other online to traditional trends seen in other markets.

“It’s almost like the clicks-and-mortar situation. Some people want to visit a shop and look at the goods, while others value the convenience of online and will put up with the hassle of occasionally making a bad choice. This is very much the same kind of divergence of mindset we are seeing in the tradem,” Pontin said.