This past year we saw a massive increase used automotive Internet usage (AIU) rate, as 68% of all used-vehicle buyers went online during the vehicle shopping process versus 63% in 2009. The dramatic rise has narrowed the gap between used- and new- AIU rates.
There are many fac tors at work. One is the poor economy, which has forced some would-be new-vehicle shoppers to buy used. Since the traditional new-vehicle buyer is more likely to shop online, the used AIU rate would be pushed up.
Another factor is the increasing Internet penetration among the U.S. population. As shown below, large increases in overall Internet penetation mirror corresponding changes in the used-vehicle AIU rate. More people going online = more used shoppers going online.
It’s not just that more people happen to be online – better and more relevant content is also drawing them in. Inventory will always be king when it comes to used-vehicle shopping and there’s so much more of it available. It’s no longer just about cars.com vs. Autotrader. These days, robust inventory tools are available on other third-party sites, OEMs (particularly for CPO) and many dealer siters. Further, dealer are doing a better job of harnessing SEO/SEM to drive traffic to their dramatically improved sites.