By Michael Axe

With advancements in online and mobile technology, a lot of our shopping habits have switched to online retailers instead of brick and mortar stores. It’s fast, it’s easy and items are delivered to your door. Car buying is quickly catching up – with more and more of the process moving offline to online. In fact a 2016 car buying study by Autotrader found that when shopping for a new vehicle, people are spending 59 percent of their time online.

Online Shopping Sites
Like all online shopping, there are many types of websites available to consumers. There are typically three types of sites people visit while shopping for a vehicle: automotive brand sites, dealer websites and third-party sites. Each type can provide valuable information.

Automotive Brand Dealer Third-party
  • Model Information
  • Colors & Upgrade Options
  • Photo Galleries
  • Local Inventory Search
  • Vehicle Pricing

One of the newest ways to shop online for a vehicle is through sites that let you complete the entire process online. Carvana is one such example. It has an extensive inventory of low-mileage, preowned vehicles with detailed 360-degree photographs. With just a few clicks, shoppers can get financing, purchase the vehicle and schedule delivery to their doorstep or can pick it up at one of the Carvana vending machines. And each Carvana purchase comes with a 7-day money back guarantee.

Social Media
Social media is slowly beginning to play a bigger role in the car buying process. In fact, according to J.D. Power, 22 percent of new-vehicle shoppers turn to social media during the auto buying process. YouTube was most used since the site is chock-full of vehicle reviews. Shoppers like to use Facebook and Instagram after the fact, so they can share images of their new ride with family and friends.

Auto Brokers
Another type of service that can make shopping easier is auto broker websites. Auto brokers do the work of searching for a vehicle on the buyer’s behalf. By filling out a form on a webpage or mobile app, buyers can let the broker know exactly the make, model and features they’re looking for. The broker will locate the buyer’s preferred vehicle, negotiate the price and then deliver the car, truck or SUV directly to the buyer. The buyer never steps foot inside a dealership. For example, members of Arizona Federal have access to the car buying experts at Members’ Auto Center.

Dealerships
While the internet is playing a major role in our auto buying experience, the majority of us are still going into the dealership to finalize the purchase. With an average of three hours being spent at the dealer, Autotrader found that only 56 percent of buyers were satisfied with this part of the process. Most likely due to the amount of time being spent on paperwork and price negotiations. Moving more of the process online could be one way for dealers to improve customer satisfaction.

What’s your car buying personality?
We all have our own preferences when it comes to buying a vehicle. We recently ran a poll on our Facebook page that asked visitors what their preferred method was for shopping for a new vehicle. While the poll isn’t at all scientific, here’s what we found: 35 percent preferred shopping online, 22 percent liked using an auto broker and 43 percent chose shopping in person.

Tell us, how do you prefer to shop for a vehicle?