2016 Automotive Mobile Site Study: More Automakers Switch to Mobile Responsive Sites; Results Mixed
Nearly three-fourths (72%) of car manufacturers now offer some form of responsive website—up from 39% 12 months ago—in part because overall mobile usage for automotive shopping continues to trend upward. According to the study, customer satisfaction with these automatically reformatting websites is important to automakers and dealers because a positive experience with the website increases the likelihood that a shopper will take a test drive, which in turn increases the chance of a sale.
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“Automotive manufacturer and third-party websites are increasingly being accessed via smartphones by new-vehicle shoppers,” said Deirdre Borrego, senior vice president and general manager of data & analytics at J.D. Power. “With so much at stake, manufacturers and third-party sites have to figure out how to execute an excellent online shopping experience, regardless of device.”
Still a New Phenomenon
The craft of designing websites that are responsive and adaptive to different devices is still developing, and designers are still facing challenges. According to the study, when manufacturers launch a responsive or responsive/adaptive site, customer satisfaction with speed and ease of navigation tend to suffer the most noticeable declines. However, those areas appear to be rebounding. When J.D. Power evaluated the first manufacturer sites that transitioned to responsive design, in its 2014 study, overall satisfaction stood at 770. That figure increases to 778 in 2016, driven by significant increases in speed satisfaction: 771 in 2016, compared with 751 in 2014.
Automakers and third-party companies use one of three typical web design approaches:
- Responsive: This approach provides optimal viewing of one layout that adjusts the content display based on the screen size.
- Adaptive: This system offers several distinct layouts that are optimized for various device types. Adaptive sites must maintain separate content/asset libraries for each layout. Therefore, they are somewhat more expensive to build and maintain, but at least theoretically they are maximally effective in each format.
- Responsive/Adaptive: This is a hybrid technique that adjusts the layout/content based on the screen size, but also senses the device type, thus allowing for customized content and navigation for that device type.
Boomers Are Harder to Please
The study also finds that satisfaction with manufacturers’ mobile websites is considerably lower among Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) than among Gen Y customers (those born between 1977 and 1994)—759 vs. 799, respectively. The difference between satisfaction levels for navigation alone is even greater: 733 among Boomers and 794 among Gen Y customers. Boomers are also less satisfied with the websites’ appearance than Gen Y customers (784 vs. 821, respectively); information/content (759 vs. 792); and speed (757 vs. 790).
Infiniti (805) ranks highest in overall manufacturer website satisfaction, followed by Jeep (803), Dodge (801), and Lincoln (801). Cars.com (751) ranks highest in overall third-party website satisfaction, followed by TrueCar (740) and U.S. News Best Cars (740).
Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:
- If a manufacturer website doesn’t cooperate with you on a certain device, or you don’t like its appearance, try visiting the website on a different device type.
- Look beyond the website. It’s the car or truck that you’re buying ultimately, not the advertising technology.
- Visit third-party websites as well as manufacturer websites to get independent assessments and comparisons of new vehicles.
- Use manufacturer websites to find the latest improvements, options, promotions, and news on upcoming models, as well as to shop for a vehicle.
About the Study
The 2016 Automotive Mobile Site Study examines the features and content of automotive manufacturer and third-party mobile websites and their usefulness in the vehicle-shopping process. The study includes more than 11,500 evaluations of automotive mobile websites from vehicle shoppers who intend to purchase or lease a vehicle within the next 2 years. The study was fielded in July and August 2016.