Vehicle pre-ordering has emerged as a more satisfying option for consumers as they increasingly embraced online auto shopping in 2022. At the same time, car buyers were increasingly dissatisfied with their overall experience as they dealt with limited inventory and pandemic-driven supply shortages, two new industry studies have shown.
Pre-ordered vehicles encompassed 1 in 5 new-vehicle sales in 2022, largely because of inventory shortages. That's a nearly 90 percent jump over the previous year, according to Cox Automotive's 2022 Car Buyer Journey Study. What's more, just under 80 percent of consumers who ordered this way were more satisfied with the experience, the findings noted.
Similarly, S&P Global Mobility found that about 56 percent of U.S. consumers would wait more than a month for a delivery of a vehicle they ordered, and 30 percent would wait more than three months. Broken down further, 61 percent of luxury buyers were willing to wait more than a month for vehicle delivery vs. 46 percent for mainstream brands. Roughly 33 percent of luxury buyers were fine with waiting more than three months, vs. 23 percent for mainstream brands.
Both surveys reinforced the idea that consumers increasingly want to order their vehicles online.
Cox Automotive found that nearly 90 percent of consumers buying electric vehicles are willing to conduct their transaction fully online. Among those shopping for new internal combustion vehicles, 73 percent said they are willing to try a full digital buying experience.
"Our data shows that both consumers and dealers benefit from digital retailing tools," said Isabelle Helms, vice president of research and marketing intelligence at Cox Automotive. "Dealers cite efficiency, ease and profitability. Consumers cite efficiency, transparency and just an overall better experience."
The S&P Global survey found that 60 percent of customers now expect to complete their next vehicle purchase entirely online, up 8 percentage points from before the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, 70 percent of U.S. customers were willing to work with dealerships farther away from home because they offered more online purchase and comparison options, the survey found.
This underscores the need for dealers to embrace digital selling technologies and the purchasing innovations they bring to the table, according to Treffen White, S&P Global Mobility's director of consulting.
"The dealer network of the past is not necessarily the network the industry will need for the future," White said. "Having the right digital tools will be more important than the size or appearance of the showroom, and this will impact how OEMs plan their physical locations for dealerships."