Most Sri Lankans still use traditional ways of buying and selling vehicles like newspaper classified but online sales are expected to grow fast, an official of Carmudi, an online vehicle market place, said.

A study by Carmudi found that 70 percent of car dealers in Sri Lanka reported an increase in sales over the past twelve months due to the changing economic climate, while 20 percent reported a decrease.

Managing Director for Carmudi Sri Lanka Firaz Markar said car dealers have reported that over 30 percent of buyers turned to the Internet and 10 percent are turning to dealer sites when researching for cars.

“Car dealers also reported that 60 percent of car buyers are still using offline media such as newspaper classifieds as a source of information when searching for a car,” he told a news conference held to launch Carmudi’s report on ‘The Booming Automotive Industry in Emerging Markets’.

“This proves that offline media such as newspaper classifieds are still highly used in Sri Lanka as a source for buyers.”

But Markar said a 41 percent annual automobile sector search query growth is a “fantastic indicator” of the potential within the Sri Lankan market.

“Even though data shows that a majority of Sri Lankans use offline mediums to source information historically, we see that online sources are also another stop before a complete buying decision is made.

“We will see a shift in this situation over the next couple of years, looking at online usage rates, where the online medium will be a clear front runner when looking for a car to buy.”

Markar said Carmudi is well positioned to cater to current and future demand through its website.

“We provide dealers data-driven support, such as how many people look at their site, and how long they take to answer calls,” he said. “Online is going to boom. Users need to make the process more simple.”

The Carmudi study said in more developed markets, auto e-commerce has grown so fast that now as many as 80 percent of new car and almost 100 percent of used car customers begin their car shopping experience online.

“There is no reason to doubt that emerging markets will rapidly catch up to these figures.”