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Kelley Blue Book: Used car buyers continue to shift toward online shopping

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One in four people who bought a car in 2021 visited an online used car retailer like Carvana
CVNA,
-15.80%
,
Vroom
VRM,
+0.86%
,
or Shift
SFT,
+0.60%
.
The number comes from the Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study, which tracks consumer attitudes toward the car-buying process. (Cox Automotive is the parent company of Kelley Blue Book.)

In 2020, 17% of buyers visited one of the new online used car retailers. Five years ago, just 3% did.

Their growth reflects a shift in how Americans prefer to car shop.

Americans are happiest shopping virtually

Though car prices soared throughout 2021, astonishingly, the study found that most Americans who bought a new car were happy with their shopping experience. Why? Because they conducted most of it online.

The more they conducted their buying experience virtually, the happier buyers were.

The average buyer visited just two dealerships and spent less time there than ever before. About 18% of buyers completed more than 50% of the buying process on a screen.

Digital used car retailers give consumers that experience.

The sites attracted new-car shoppers as well as used car shoppers. Twenty-nine percent of used car buyers and 12% of new car buyers visited one of the sites.

According to the study, 56% of buyers looked at both new and used vehicles.

Competition coming

The success of the online used car megastore has invited competition.

General Motors
GM,
-5.57%

recently announced CarBravo, which pulls together used-vehicle inventory from participating dealers into a single, easy-to-navigate used-vehicle marketplace. The tagline: “A brand new way to buy used cars.” Ford
F,
-4.26%

launched a similar initiative in 2021: Ford Blue Advantage, powered by Cox Automotive company Autotrader.

Read next: Consumer watchdog fires warning shot to lenders over abusive auto repos as used-car prices soar

This story originally ran on KBB.com

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