If COVID-19 has taught us one thing so far, it’s that we as students, employees and customers can take most of our dealings, learning and business online.
This trend towards digitization is now spilling into the automotive industry in the UAE, where 40% of all UAE pre-owned car transactions are forecast to either be initiated or fully conducted online by 2022. At a time when the sales of new vehicles are bottoming out, this new trend makes sense.
These findings are the result of three studies conducted by Dubi Cars International, an online car retailer in the UAE. The results, based on the responses from more than 6,000 UAE-based consumers, have led the online marketplace to anticipate 80% of all car export transactions in the country occurring online by 2022.
The three surveys are titled ‘Dubi Cars Online Car Buying’ (DCOCB), ‘UAE’s Most Trusted Automotive Marketplace’ (UMTAM) and ‘Dubi Cars Market’ (DCM).
The recently conducted DCOCB survey revealed that 75% of respondents have never purchased a car online. However, when asked if they would consider it, over 75% of respondents expressed their eagerness to conduct virtual transactions. Potential buyers are spending increasing amounts of time on online car marketplaces and over 84% of consumers highlighted the importance of owning a private vehicle since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Backing up the respondents’ feedback are solid operational figures from Dubi Cars. The company has experienced a swift return in generated customer leads since post lockdown and has documented a rapid increase in website traffic, recording a 47% increase in website visit time. Consumer leads for SUV-crossover models grew by 25% YOY, and leads for sedans grew by 6%, reaching 100,000 leads a month – an all time record-high for the platform.
Challenges to online purchases of vehicles
While companies like Tesla pride themselves on their online sales business model, buying and selling used cars is an entirely different matter.
The DCOCB survey highlighted ‘Car Inspections’ as a primary challenge consumers face when considering an online purchase. Over 30% of consumers stated that inspecting a car is necessary when purchasing used cars. To address online purchasing restrictions, Dubi Cars has developed two new digital solutions – 360 Exterior Car View and Premium Video Features – which provide customers with more visual data of a vehicle to inform their purchasing decision.
Online marketplaces like Dubi Cars have plenty of reason to remedy these challenges. The recently conducted DCM survey highlighted that over 90% of UAE consumers are considering buying a vehicle in the next three months, with approximately 80% interested in purchasing used cars.
The UMTAM survey noted that the UAE car market has been drastically affected and consumers are seeking competitive price points for reliable and affordable cars, with over 70% of consumers stating that price discounts impacted their decision making process. When it comes to online transactions, over 80% of respondents anticipate special discounts and offers.
“The overall UAE economy is picking up pace and as the country looks towards the future, consumer trends have shifted towards digitized purchases across the board,” Craig Stevens, CEO of Dubi Cars, said. “This includes the automotive industry, which is experiencing an accelerated rate of digital transformation. Customers are now considering purchasing used cars wholly online and car dealerships need to adapt their business models to this growing trend, which is likely to continue as the used car market rapidly recovers.”