The overwhelming majority of consumers are now happy to look to the internet when researching a car to buy. However, men are twice as likely as women to feel confident enough to complete the entire car shopping journey online.
According to eBay Advertising, 87% of those in the market for a new set of wheels cite the web as a crucial part of the car shopping process, whether checking price comparison sites or reading reviews.
The two-part study, which polled the opinions of 1,000 US consumers who had bought a car within the past six months and then compared the findings with data from its eBay Motors portal based on purchases made by 1,000 users, also found that 63% of consumers are already prepared to buy a car completely online in the near future.
"Technology continues to evolve the automotive shopping journey," said Josh Wetzel, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at eBay Advertising. "As more consumers continue to embrace automotive ecommerce for vehicles, enhanced experiences and technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence will continue to drive a larger shift to online purchasing."
This "shift"' is why BMW in January launched an augmented reality app, developed by Accenture, that will enable anyone with a Google Tango-enabled handset to take a virtual tour of a BMW i8 or i3 designed to their specifications.
"Our research shows that consumers are seeking improved use of technologies like augmented reality during the car-buying process to make the online-offline experience more compelling," said Christina Raab, managing director in Accenture's Automotive practice.
Research by JD Power has also noted a trend towards car buyers looking to social media for advice and guidance as an attempt to avoid sales assistants at dealerships.
"Social media plays a large role in many consumers' lives, so it's not surprising that it's one of the tools they're using during the vehicle-shopping process," said Mike Battaglia, vice president, automotive retail at J.D. Power.
According to eBay men are twice as likely as women to feel comfortable buying a car entirely online. Even though women usually index higher on studies related to anxiety when dealing with sales assistants at car dealerships, those polled by eBay feel the need to buy in person so they can take a test drive.
But even this problem could soon be solved. Nissan is partnering with Amazon in Japan so potential customers can order a test drive via Amazon's site or apps. All they have to do is book a slot and the car will arrive at their door along with a member of Nissan's staff.