Understanding the automotive customer journey

Aug 12, 2020Facts, Tips & Tricks

The way in which we buy and sell cars has changed more over the last decade than ever before. A combination of readily available information at our fingertips and brand new routes to market means that buying a car doesn’t have to take months of research and multiple trips to competing dealerships. In fact, the average time taken to purchase a new or used car has decreased from 118 days to just 96 days, in the last two years alone.

Scrutinizing your own shopper journey will allow you to identify and remove any friction points. Here, we cover the three stages of the automotive customer journey, what they mean, how they’re evolving, and what you can do to offer a fluid customer journey. These are ‘Awareness’, ‘Consideration’ and ‘Decision’.

Automotive Customer Journey


The awareness stage involves the customer recognizing their need for a new vehicle. Often, this could be a result of an old vehicle exhibiting problems, a finance plan coming to an end, or even a new driver taking the first step to purchasing their first vehicle.

At this point, the prospective customer may be researching how-to guides to fix their old car or the cost to run a new vehicle. They may also weigh up the pros and cons of buying versus leasing. The awareness stage is very much the process of identifying a need, before deciding that buying a new car is the right solution for them.

Utilizing a blog to create useful and persuasive how-to articles and information guides is a great way to influence customers at this point, but there will inevitably be fewer touchpoints between customer and dealer, than later on in the automotive customer journey.


Once the customer has made the decision to buy a car, the consideration stage follows. At this point, the customer will be researching the model options, establishing their specification requirements and exploring price points. The customer has identified their problem and is now looking for the right solution, with 61% of time spent researching being online.

This is when the dealer can get more actively involved. During the consideration stage, ensure you meet your customers at every point in their customer journey. Be dominant in your marketing strategy, by investing in SEO (search engine optimization) and pay per click advertising. 52% of buyers will use multiple devices to research their next car, so ensure your website and marketing materials look strong across both mobile and desktop.

Providing the right marketing message is also crucial, so ensure your best offers are advertized, showcase your best-selling stock and ensure that your vehicle display pages are full of useful specification information, images, videos and 360-degree spin displays.


During the decision process, the customer will have narrowed their search, decided on a model or two to choose from and will now be researching vendors. The customer may have a budget in mind and is ready to schedule a test drive.

Here, you’ll want to ensure your brand awareness is strong within your target locations, by choosing a good mixture of online and offline marketing channels. 41% of customers will visit just one dealership before making a purchase, versus just 30% in 2017, so be assertive in your brand awareness strategy to get ahead of the competition.

What’s next?

It’s no secret that the automotive customer journey will continue to evolve, but the customer journey principles of ‘Awareness, Consideration, Decision’ will remain the same.

Changes to dealership routes to market are predicted to continue at a rapid rate, with 36% of dealers planning to have a fully online transaction option within the next twelve months.

Online Transaction Capability of Dealers

Dealerships with a strong and seamless automotive digital retailing experience will thrive, leaving those without a strategy to fall behind. To find out how SnapCell can support your digital retailing strategy, through the use of 360-degree spin displays, customer video messaging, walkaround videos and more, get in touch with the team and arrange your free demo.






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