Records were broken for on-line car sales in January and not only that, we also saw the number of people actually using the internet for researching and choosing their car growing rapidly. Although figures of 70% increases year-on-year look impressive it must be acknowledged that as recently as last year sales via the internet at the major car auctions were hardly anything to shout about.
With improved quality graphics, much better communication of data for each car and vastly improved descriptions it seems to have given buyers, especially trade buyers, the confidence to bid on-line knowing the cars will be as described and having the peace of mind that if there is an issue it will be resolved quickly.
The big auction players BCA and Manheim have realised that the future success of on-line sales will rely heavily on buyer confidence in the quality of the descriptions of the cars they bid on. With the major players constantly updating the speed and clarity of their systems many auction halls will be emptier in future and with fees being a lot cheaper on-line expect more buyers to purchase stock in this way in the future.
Indeed many trade people are opting to save fuel costs, stay at their showrooms and buy on line and have the auction take care of delivering the cars to them thus freeing up their time to sell more cars. In terms of the private buyer the experience they have with auction systems like e-bay will mean they are familiar with the process and they can buy cars on-line, in the traditional auction style without actually having to be there and participate in, what can be an intimidating atmosphere to the uninitiated. Again these buyers will only be attracted if they have the confidence to bid knowing they are buying exactly what has been described.
One possible downside is that by buying on-line you will never really know who is bidding against you and this surely gives the auctioneer and the vendors an advantage in that they could, in these circumstances easily ‘run’ you into paying more than you may have done. The integrity of the auction would be taken into question if buyers believe that the auctioneer is having ‘their leg up’ so we believe no reputable auction house would want that. At the end of the day this will be very profitable for the auction houses and we may very well see the bulk of used cars bought and sold this way in the not too distant future.