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Observing my Brother… the car shopper

Observing my Brother… the car shopper.

My brother is shopping for a car for his wife. What a great observation experience for me!

My rules are to observe only. Answer questions only when asked. I tie my hands behind my back and put duct tape on my mouth, and off he goes…

My brother is no dummy. He runs multi-million dollar industrial construction projects and he custom builds water cooled gaming PCs for recreation. IOW, he has all the intellectual resources needed… AND like most shoppers, he some what knows cars (makes, models not trims). His wife’s Hyundai SUV gave him ~100k miles of trouble free use, so he’s devalued new car risk (i.e. he’ll buy any brand).

I’ll track workflow, hours and websites (websites will be colored blue)

Day 1. Website #1 (1.5 hrs)

Research begins with Consumer Reports.​

Day 5. Websites #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (>2hs)

This evening, he takes CR’s recommendation (make/model & trim) and begins to “find what deals are on it”. He won’t look at [edit] used SUVs because when buying his truck, he discovered the dollar gap between new and used was too small. So, he assumes that the gap is still small. He googles the dealer’s website closest to him and finds that the final prices (less incentives and discounts) are more than he wants to spend (this is a common workflow, he picked a loaded unit and was expecting a larger discount).

He googles & goes to the OEM site. He thinks that if he can buy a lesser trim and add some cool features he’ll save some cash. On the OEM site, he custom builds the SUV to his preferences, then he wants to use this custom config & click a button to find matches at dealerships in his market…

#FAIL He tries 3-5 times on OEM site and gives up. He googles another dealership site and hits another dead end. He’s 2+ hours into this, he’s tired and giving up on this Consumer Report pick (FYI, this is where using past shopping data to create a personalized visit can reinforce frustration). It’s late, he’s tired, he’s got multiple tabs open, and he’s realized he’s back to zero and those 3-4hrs are lost.​

Day 6. Websites # 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 (>2 hrs)

High level research resumes on work breaks with googling Car&Driver, MotorTrend, He mentioned US News but he discounted it. These sites narrow his focus to 2 new OEMs and 2 models. Later that eve, on google he discovers CarGurus and this makes a significant impact to his “not used cars” planning. I see him using ‘Gurus site almost exclusively this eve.​

Today, it’s been 2 days since Day 6. No forward movement.

He has 2 outside sources pushing him. #1) My wife is an ex-car sales gal, she told him to buy at the end of the month (mngrs deal more aggressively). #2). His trade has 95,000 miles and he’s been told >100k is a tradein negative. He’s feeling the pressure to act ;-)​

My summary so far.

My brother is 15 websites and ~7 hours into this. He’s getting shopping fatigue. He’s fully committed to the internet, but, the internet keeps falling short helping him.

More as it comes…

P.S. I see his conclusion coming as clear as day. He is going to be another shopper that will tire from the fragmented shopping UX and abandon the internet and go to the dealer to fill in the gaps. I see this behavior everywhere I look. It’s why internet shoppers don’t want Digital Retailing …yet 😉

P. P. S. It’s important to point out that the single sessions 2 hours & more were filled with family interruptions. These stops and re-starts caused him to burn up more time trying to recall where he was and regain the workflow.

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--Self Employed for decades. Co-Founder 3 successful start-ups. Professional Stock Trader. Marketing Dir. at Dealerships in NY for a decade, Recently ...