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2017 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study Cross-Device—Winter: Smartphones Win, As Vehicle Research Tools

2017 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study Cross-Device—Winter: Smartphones Win, As Vehicle Research Tools

By Joseph Dobrian, February 02, 2017

Mobile devices are gaining ground as research tools, for consumers shopping for a new car. The recently published and newly redesigned J.D. Power 2017 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study Cross-DeviceSM—Winter finds that manufacturers are offering a higher level of usability for researching a new vehicle via smartphone than ever before. The study reports that overall satisfaction averages 825 (on a 1,000-point scale) among shoppers using the smartphone platform, compared with 816 for desktop. Satisfaction is significantly higher among smartphone shoppers than among desktop shoppers, respectively, for website appearance (847 vs. 834); navigation (821 vs. 814); and information/content (817 vs. 809).

“Manufacturers have put substantial effort into making the vehicle research experience rewarding on smaller screens and it is paying off,” said Thomas King, vice president of PIN OEM operations, media and marketing at J.D. Power. “With three-fourths of sites now designed to be responsive and/or adaptive, vehicle shoppers have increasing access to robust content that is appropriately tailored for the particular device or devices that they choose to use.”

Responsive sites have become musts for automakers in the past three years. Since 2014, the share of responsive and/or adaptive OEM sites has nearly tripled, from 27% in 2014 (9 of 33 sites) to 76% this year (25 of 33). However, a more responsive website does not always lead to higher shopper satisfaction.

Responsive Sites Do Better On Desktops
It must be noted that responsive websites don’t perform as well for smartphone users, compared with traditional sites (823 overall satisfaction vs. 831, respectively, according to the study). Satisfaction with navigation and information/content on responsive sites is notably higher among desktop shoppers than among smartphone shoppers. Additionally, among desktop shoppers, satisfaction with responsive sites is higher than with traditional sites (820 vs. 807), as well as higher satisfaction across all measures included in the study.

When the study compares the performance of responsive sites on a smartphone device compared with a desktop computer, results vary greatly, with many sites underperforming on one device, compared with the other. Historical study data have shown that the sites that have recently been redesigned to be more responsive usually show a drop in speed and/or navigation measures immediately following initial implementation. The responsive sites that have been live since 2014 are among the highest performers, due to their improvements over time—particularly reflected in the satisfaction levels they achieve with the speed of the site. This trend indicates that while a learning curve certainly exists, when responsive sites are in development, sites can increase shopper satisfaction by continuously improving their designs.

Key Findings
Other key findings of the study include the following:
  • Among all measures in the study, information/content drives the highest overall satisfaction (32% on desktop, 29% on smartphone).
  • Shopping for price-related information is the least satisfying task among shoppers (784 for desktop, 797 for smartphone).
  • Among shoppers in all generational groups, those in Gen Y (those born 1977-1994) have the highest levels of website satisfaction across all devices (847 for desktop, 845 for smartphone, 858 for tablet).

Land Rover, Cadillac Lead Manufacturer Website Rankings
Land Rover (855) is the OEM website that ranks highest in overall desktop website satisfaction, followed by Infiniti (842) and Porsche (842). Overall satisfaction with automotive desktop websites averages 816.

Cadillac (852) ranks highest in overall smartphone website satisfaction, followed by Hyundai (844) and Jaguar (844). Overall satisfaction with automotive smartphone websites averages 825.

Consumer Tips
Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:

  • If a website responds slowly or doesn’t display correctly on your smartphone, it may not have a responsive design. Try viewing the site on a desktop computer.
  • Be aware that both website development and smartphone technology are still young and evolving.
  • It’s becoming easier to pre-shop on the web; thus, shoppers are exposed to many more options but will be able to narrow down the choices more efficiently.

About the Study
The 2017 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study Cross-Device is a semiannual study. Now in its 18th year, the study measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites during the new-vehicle shopping process by examining four key measures: information/content, appearance, navigation and speed. The 2017 Winter study is based on responses from more than 12,000 new-vehicle shoppers who indicate they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months. The study was fielded Nov. 1-21, 2016.

Additional Research:

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