Almost one in every 10 used car purchases is made entirely on a smartphone, according to new figures from online used car marketplace BuyaCar.co.uk. The website’s data showed sales are increasing numbers of customers are choosing to use their smartphones to browse and buy their next car.

Over the last year, the company says used car purchases completed entirely on mobile phones have shot up by almost half (48.7 percent). Over the same period, sales conducted on desktop or laptop computers were up by 22.1 percent. Interestingly, while sales taking place on tablet computers such as iPads also increased, they still account for around one percent of all BuyaCar’s business.

In total, BuyaCar.co.uk claims 8.4 percent of all transactions on the site are now conducted on smartphones. That includes finding the right car, reserving it and applying for finance, as well as completing security checks and arranging delivery. As a result, the company says it expects “buying on the go” to become “as commonplace as ordering a takeaway or checking social media”.

Buying on your phone

At the same time the website has also noted a “remarkable” trend among buyers using their smartphone to browse. According to BuyaCar.co.uk, comparisons between sales and the number of times people visited the site showed a 105.2-percent uplift in the ‘conversion rate’ (the proportion of sales per visit) for mobile phone users.

That trend was broadly mirrored among laptop and desktop users, although the increase in conversion rate was up less dramatically. Over the past year, the proportion of sales per visit was up by just under two-thirds (63.4 percent).

Woman on smartphone commuting in London with double-decker bus

BuyaCar.co.uk says these increases could be down to changes in the site’s design, but the company also suspects there is “growing confidence” in online purchases using smartphones. Even for big-ticket items such as cars.

"These figures reveal that the mobile phone is now the go-to screen for nearly one in 10 online car buyers - a figure that would have been hard to imagine just a decade ago,” said Christofer Lloyd, the editor of BuyaCar.co.uk. "But our deeper analysis is even more interesting because it suggests that online car shoppers are also confident to commit to a purchase more quickly than ever before.

Salesman having phone call in new car showroom

"What is perhaps most remarkable about this increase in mobile purchasing activity is that it has happened during a year when many people were locked down and working from home, with no concerns about being overlooked at work while they browsed cars and filled in finance applications.

“So, even though there was perhaps less need to slip away to a quiet location to access the internet on their smartphone, a growing number of shoppers chose mobile as their way to buy a car anyway."