What Are The Chances You'll Buy Your Next Car Online?

Edmund Ingham
E. Ingham|12.02.15

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Edmund Ingham
December 2, 2015 12:55 PM
What Are The Chances You'll Buy Your Next Car Online?
The truth, as if we didn't already know it, is out; people in the UK don't particularly like "shopping" for second hand cars.

According to a recent survey conducted by new digital used car sales platform Carspring the average Brit spends 27 hours in their quest to find a new set of wheels, travelling over 48 miles and attending at least 4 viewings. Over their lifetimes they will repeat this wearisome exercise on no fewer than seven occasions.

Or will they? Shopping habits are changing - nowadays we prefer to buy online when we can -and nowhere more so than in the UK where Brits will spend up to £61 billion on purchases this year it has been estimated - that's second only to China and the US with a greater per capita spend than both.

Carspring's research also showed that 2 out of 3 people end up disappointed with their purchase; 54% of those surveyed believed their used car was not worth the money they paid for it and one in ten said their car had broken down at least once within 30 days of purchase. Not only that, 51% said they found the whole process of buying a used car stressful; one third of 25-30 year olds said they found it as stressful as buying a house.

So does it all point to a move towards buying vehicles online?

"Our new online service ensures every car is vetted by our experts, removes the hard work and confusion, and makes the whole process child's play."

So says Max Vollenbroich, ex McKinsey consultant and the co-founder of Carspring; the tech start-up that aims to deliver your perfect used motor to your door, having had it checked over by a qualified mechanic and the price decided by the latest available market information, all via an online platform.

If you don't know what you're looking for (and nearly half of those surveyed admitted to checking under the bonnet despite not having a clue about what lay underneath it) then it must be tempting to have a mechanic run the rule over the car you are thinking of buying.

And unless you have a deeply personal relationship with every car you buy the chances are one 5 year old Vauxhall Saloon with 50,000 miles on the clock is very much like another. Pick your colour, style, specs and away you go – Carspring offer to take care of all the paperwork for you and in case you have any lingering doubts – there is a 14 day money back guarantee.

Carspring are less than 1 year old but they are already selling nearly 2 cars every day. They are Venture Capital backed, by Rocket Internet, amongst others. It's a model that has worked well in the US, where Beepi, Shift, Vroom and Carvana have all scaled quickly to meet unprecedented consumer demand. Carvana even built America's first ever "car vending machine" in Atlanta in 2013, while Beepi is reporting revenues over $100m and recently became what is known in the start-up world as a "unicorn"; a start-up with a billion dollar valuation.

There's no doubt there's a gap in the marketplace for any company that can marry tech and motoring harmoniously, make the customer's life easier, and save them money. "Our car concierge service not only removes the labour and man-hours, but also the jargon, confusion and disappointment of being landed with an old banger", says Vollenbroich.

Its a big marketplace too; 7.2 million cars were sold in the UK last year and the industry is estimated to be worth £45.1bn – how big a slice of that can Carspring take?

Well, there are plenty of folks out there who would swap 27 hours of car-searching grind for buying their new car on their sofa, in their pajamas, safe in the knowledge it's not going to be a "old banger" – or save the £2,670 in potential earnings that Carspring reveals is the price of a used car search amongst 25-30 year olds, 14% of whom travel more than 200 miles and spend over 200 hours in total buying their new, old car.
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