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Comscore Research Shows Increased Consumer Interest in Online Vehicle Shopping and At-Home Delivery as Industry Continues to Recover

Auto sales and shoppers rose in May 2020 as automakers responded to consumer concerns

New research from Comscore, a trusted partner for planning, transacting and evaluating media across platforms, finds a modest recovery in the automotive industry is ongoing, as market shoppers and sales continue to rise and automakers launch fully digital vehicle shopping and delivery services.

According to information from Comscore Automotive Data Mart and Wards Automotive, both in-market new vehicle shoppers and sales began to bounce back in May 2020, with market-wide shoppers rising 24 percent and sales rising 57 percent from the record lows of April 2020. However, market-wide shoppers and sales remain lower than is typically expected in a month that perennially sees elevated incentives, shopper interest and sales. The recovery was likely driven by the preliminary easing of lockdowns coupled with the successful rollout of near record-level incentives and customer support programs across automotive brands and dealers.

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“As automakers try to reach consumers with adequate incentives and respond to concerns over in-person contact during the coronavirus pandemic, many are beginning to launch efforts to adopt fully online purchase and home delivery capabilities across their brands and dealer networks,” said Dennis Bulgarelli, Vice President, Automotive, Comscore. “The question remains – is there an appetite for online vehicle shopping and at-home delivery?”

Early figures suggest there is some consumer interest in at least considering online purchase and home delivery options. Looking at the General Motors and Fiat Chrysler groups, buy.gm.com and DriveFCA, respectively, both have initiatives aimed at online delivery options. Buy.gm.com is reached through their “Shop. Click. Drive.” program upon initiating the “buying process” – which includes calculating loans, finalizing details, and contacting dealers for further discussions and delivery set up. While the program itself is not new, additional functionality, such as low-contact delivery options, and end-to-end coverage is a novel response to changing behavior today. DriveFCA is similar, albeit a more recent domain launch, offering an all-in-one site for its various brands’ shoppers to search inventory, explore financing, and get connected to dealers for delivery. According to information from Comscore’s Desktop Panel, GM’s site saw a 28 percent month-over-month boost in unique visitation in May 2020. Likewise, DriveFCA saw a 14 percent increase month over month since its first month online in April 2020.

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Visitation to Ford’s online shopping domain, shop.ford.com, is another example of this emerging interest in fully digital vehicle shopping and delivery services. Shop.ford.com is several years old, but with the onset of COVID-19, the brand deployed new efforts to expand the service to cover home delivery and has incentivized dealers who joined in the program. Though the visitation to the site overall has waned year over year (down 13 percent), it did see some recovery from April 2020 as well. By contrast, visitation to inventory search pages on the site, shop.ford.com/inventory, – an important key indicator indicating more serious shopping – was up 17 percent from April 2020 and up 29 percent from May 2019.

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