Study into Online Car Sales 2020


Digital gap between customers and dealers

Ludwigsburg – During the corona crisis, the sale of products online has increased dramatically. Already before the pandemic, the majority of people in Germany were willing also to buy cars - second-hand or new cars - over the Internet. This is shown by the study into "Online Car Sales 2020", which the management and IT consulting company MHP carried out together with the Nürtingen-Geislingen University of Applied Science (HfWU) and the Central Association of German Motor-Vehicle Trades (ZDK). In the study, which was carried out during the period from autumn 2019 to March and in May 2020, customers and dealers were asked about digitalization along the entire customer journey – that is, from information and advice to the decision to buy, purchase and delivery.


62 per cent of the customers surveyed could imagine purchasing a car online. In comparison with the first online car sales study in 2018, this is a slight decrease of 4 percentage points. Altogether, however, the customers are very open to digital offers along the entire customer journey. For dealers, the overall picture is different. As was already the case two years ago, they are rather hesitant and perceive digitalization as a threat.


Peter Caracciolo, partner at MHP in the area of Future Retail: "With online purchasing, the customers associate a range of added values: from price advantages and exclusive additional offers to faster availability. For dealers, on the other hand, the dominant concern is that their business model is being eroded. And they still behave passively. Only 25 per cent already have a purely online sales process for new cars, for second-hand cars it is even just 17 per cent."


New business models and innovative technologies


Regardless of this, the car trade still has an excellent starting position: It enjoys the trust of customers and benefits from the physical proximity to them – this is shown, for example, by the fact that for 56 per cent of customers personal advice is "important" or "very important". The authors estimate that, in future, it will be important for dealers to use these strengths in new business models. For example, they could specialize in after-sales business, or develop further to become mobility providers. There is also potential in the use of innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence.


In addition to all the phases of the customer journey from the perspective of customers and dealers and possible business models, the study also highlights the effects of the corona crisis on the car trade. In a concluding summary, the authors specify concrete recommendations for action.


The study is available on the MHP website and can be downloaded free of charge:


Peter Caracciolo will gladly answer any questions on the digitalization of the car trade. Simply send your question to:   PublicRelations(at)


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