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2018 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study Cross-Device—Winter: Smartphones Outperforming Desktop Devices

2018 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study Cross-Device—Winter: Smartphones Outperforming Desktop Devices

By Joseph Dobrian, January 26, 2018

The gap between smartphones and desktop devices, in terms of customer satisfaction, continues to widen, according to the J.D. Power 2018 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study Cross-DeviceSM—Winter. The semiannual study, informally referred to as MWES, measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites during the process of shopping for a new vehicle by examining four key measures (in order of importance): information/content; appearance; speed; and navigation.

This year’s study finds that overall satisfaction averages 842 (on a 1,000-point scale) for the smartphone platform—significantly higher than 816 for desktop. This compares with 827 and 814 points, respectively, in last year’s study, and shows that the satisfaction gap between the two platforms continues to widen—from nine points in 2015, to 13 in the summer of 2017, to 26 in this most recent study. This variation reflects the challenges manufacturers face as they work to deliver world-class shopping experiences across a variety of devices.

“I take note of the richness with which the OEM websites are increasing the customer’s experience,” said Amit Aggarwal, digital analyst at J.D. Power. “You can experience the vehicle from your computer, with high-quality large images of the vehicle, inside and out. But the newest editions of OEM websites have provided equally hi-quality 360-degree views of the vehicle, inside and out. These are directly on the page; you don’t need to make extra clicks to access them. The top performers on desktop devices, in terms of customer satisfaction, include Jaguar, Land Rover, and Infiniti, which offer exactly those capabilities.

“These technologies give an advantage to premium OEMs in terms of storytelling. Premium vehicles tend to be purchased for emotional reasons, the fit and finish and so on. Being able to showcase that, on a website, is more compelling for a premium vehicle. A non-premium vehicle is more likely to be purchased for gas mileage, or reliability.”

Aggarwal suggests that it’s possible that interaction with websites via smartphones is gaining customer satisfaction faster than interaction with websites via desktops because the performance of smartphones is improving.

“People are gaining facility with their smartphones, and the phones are getting better,” he says. “An increasing percentage of consumers are using their smartphones to accomplish more, and there’s more content that works well on smartphones. Automakers’ websites are in an arms race now: there’s always someone else trying to create something technologically better than what is out there now.”

Consumer Tips
Based on the 2018 MWES, J.D. Power offers the following tips:
  • Take full advantage of the high-tech graphics offered by OEM websites to get a clear idea of what it might be like to experience ownership of the vehicle.
  • Take extensive notes on the differences among vehicles, in terms of the features they offer, the specs, the æsthetics, the fit and finish—and the prices, depending on the options you want.
  • Use OEM websites to develop your “wish list,” and to compare the more desirable characteristics of each make and model.
  • However, take care to focus on the quality and features of the vehicle—not of the website.

About the Study
The Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study, initially released in 1999, was most recently fielded in November 2017.

Additional Research:

  • View All Automotive Study Ratings
  • View All Automotive Study Articles
  • Search Local Inventory

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