Malaysian car buyers increasingly doing research online, says J.D. Power

By CARSIFU | 17 June 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians are increasingly starting their car-buying purchases through online channels, with the Malaysian market forming the biggest in the region.

Results from the J.D. Power 2018 Malaysia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) StudySM (Mass Market) show a large increase in the number of new car buyers researching online.

With 59% of customers in Malaysia starting their shopping journey via digital channels, the market outperforms India (54%), Thailand (46%) and the Philippines (45%) in the region.

In 2016, only 27% of new buyers across the country used online sources when considering a new car.

Significantly, new car buyers who researched online are more likely to contact their purchase dealer in advance of purchase than those who did not (78% vs. 59%, respectively).

Typically, shoppers use the internet to source information, contact showrooms to arrange for a visit, confirm dealer opening hours/ location, enquire about vehicle prices, stock and model features.

The growth of online research highlights the need for brands and dealers to ensure their websites and social media pages are providing the information required by shoppers.

Moreover, content can be enriched to cover not only the essential transactional functions like booking a test drive, calculating the chosen car price, selecting and initiating finance, but including more engaging digital experiences.

For example, using augmented or virtual reality software to make the sales process as engaging and personalised as possible.

However, data shows that sales consultants’ preparedness to interact with their customers is lacking. Among car buyers who researched online and initiated contact with their purchase dealers, 37% indicated that their sales consultants did not completely understand their needs.

Furthermore, during the in-store visit, only 43% of these online customers noted that their dealer was very effective in using information given prior.

This highlights a lost opportunity for sales consultants to fully leverage the information provided in advance to meet customer needs and help focus on providing a personalised sales experience.

Interestingly, customers contacting the dealer online are more satisfied overall, so it is important that sales consultants ensure the online to offline conversation is as seamless as possible.

“With more customers starting their purchase journey online there is a need to enhance the digital sales experience in Malaysia. Brands and dealers should review their online content to ensure they successfully capture each prospect from the very first click,” said J.D. Power Malaysia country manager E-Ling Cheah.