A third of buyers research their new car purchase on a smartphone

New research from Auto Trader has revealed that irrespective of whether we’re looking for a brand new or used car, the smartphone is increasingly what we reach for when we want to find out more.

Indeed, the figure has risen to 41% in the last month, an eight-fold increase in just three years.

Using devices to research our new car – instead of just turning up to a showroom and collecting armfuls of brochures – is now a vital part of the car-buying process, thanks to the access we now have to a plethora of devices.

For example, 97% of all UK households now own a PC or laptop, 79% use a smartphone and 51% own a tablet, with a third of the population owning all three.

Someone handing over the keys to a new car

GETTYSmartphone and digital media presence is becoming much more important to the automotive industry

Over a thousand car buyers were asked about their purchasing decisions, with the data showing clearly the patterns in the type of device used at different stages of the process, with consumers on average using at least two devices during their research.

The research also revealed that smartphone use tends to be far more targeted than research done using a PC or laptop, with 27% of buyers now using a smartphone for their initial research, with this figure rising by the time a buyer has made a decision to visit a dealership.

It therefore makes sense for dealers to ensure that their websites are optimised for mobile use so they can they advertise their stock in front of the largest possible audience.

However, the results also show that laptops and PCs are considered to be better suited to researching a new car, as they enable buyers to compare and contrast brands, models and vehicle types, the larger screens making it easier to compare large amounts of information, across multiple sites.

digital household on tablets and phones

GETTYA third of households own a laptop, tablet as well as a smartphone

Mobile devices, on the other hand, are better suited for seeking out specific information during shorter sessions.

Smartphones are more likely than other devices to be used at forecourts for validation purposes

Nick King, Auto Trader’s insight director

Nick King, Auto Trader’s insight director, said: “Smartphones are more likely than other devices to be used at forecourts for validation purposes. Buyers are increasingly drawn to their mobiles for timely answers to specific questions on areas like price and specifications, and to reassure themselves that the retailer is one they can trust. As our patience levels shorten, consumer expectations increase from other positive mobile experiences, and our device usage changes, it becomes increasingly clear that car buyers need to find the information you have available, quickly and easily.”