STUDY_AUTO

2012 Automotive Mobile Site Study Results

10/24/2012
Automobile manufacturers are increasingly making their Web sites more accessible and useful to customers who use smartphones and other mobile devices. Those devices, meanwhile, are quickly becoming a major source of information for consumers looking for automotive information--often while physically at a dealership. These are some of the findings of the recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Automotive Mobile Site Study.SM

The 2012 study includes 9,131 evaluations of automotive mobile Web sites from vehicle shoppers who intend to purchase or lease a vehicle within the next 2 years. The study, which was fielded in August 2012, examines the features and content of automotive manufacturers' mobile Web sites and their usefulness in engaging shoppers who use a mobile phone during their vehicle-shopping process. The study helps automotive companies in their development of mobile Web sites for the growing population of online shoppers who use smartphones, in addition to or instead of home computers, in their vehicle-shopping processes.

"As shoppers increasingly use their mobile device to gather information during the shopping process and even at the point of purchase, the importance and value of mobile Web sites to both manufacturers and shoppers alike grow exponentially," says Arianne Walker, senior director of media and marketing solutions at J.D. Power and Associates. This means that mobile Web sites need to be more hyperlink-based, and more touch-screen-friendly, than the more traditional sites, where viewers gain information and access new pages via mouse clicks or cursors.

In just the past 2 years, automotive manufacturers have dramatically shifted the design, layout, and navigation of their websites in order to keep up with online shoppers' tendency to use their mobile devices for on-the-fly shopping--and with the increasing sophistication of those devices. The first websites geared to mobile use tended to be more text-based, similar to websites for home computer use, with linear layouts and small text links that were designed for trackball and cursor navigation. These manufacturer sites now tend to feature larger, more dynamic images, and allow navigation by a touch of the screen. They most often contain all the content of a desktop version of the manufacturer's website, but the content is rearranged to be more accessible and easier to operate via a handheld device.

However, it appears that the designers of mobile websites still have a ways to go. While the percentage of shoppers using mobile websites to search for information during the shopping process has increased, satisfaction with those sites is not nearly as high as is satisfaction with tablet and desktop/laptop versions of manufacturers' sites. In the 2012 study, overall satisfaction with mobile sites is 767 (on a 1,000-point scale), compared with 818 for desktop/laptop and 824 for tablet versions of manufacturer Web sites.

"As usage trends continue to shift, mobile Web site developers are challenged to bring satisfaction up to par with that for other devices," said Walker. "Many of these challenges involve providing the content that shoppers want without sacrificing speed, consistency, and ease of navigation, as well as providing a visually appealing site for smaller screens."

In the 2012 Automotive Mobile Site Study, Acura and Kia achieve the highest overall satisfaction with their mobile websites, each with a score of 794 (on a 1,000-point scale). Acura performs particularly well in information/content, while Kia performs particularly well in speed and appearance. Following Acura and Kia in the rankings are Mazda (789); GMC (787); and Jaguar and Ram in a tie (785 each).

According to the 2012 study, 31% of shoppers actively looking to buy a vehicle have visited automotive websites via their smartphone, compared with 24% in 2011 and 17% in 2010. These same shoppers access third-party sites and manufacturer sites at similar rates (69% and 68%, respectively). More than half (53%) of these in-market shoppers access automotive content while physically at the dealership. The top five types of information shoppers seek on mobile automotive websites are: vehicle pricing (66%); model information (54%); photo galleries (53%); vehicle reviews/ratings (52%); and vehicle comparison (47%).

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