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Nearly Third of Automotive Shoppers Use a Mobile Phone to Shop for a Vehicle

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Smartphones are quickly becoming a major source of information among in market automotive shoppers, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

The study examines the features and content of automotive manufacturer mobile websites and their usefulness in engaging shoppers who use a mobile phone during their vehicle-shopping process. The study assists manufacturers in developing mobile sites that meet the needs of an ever-growing population of online shoppers who use smartphones in their vehicle-shopping process.

In 2012, 31 percent of in-market vehicle shoppers have visited automotive websites via their smartphone, compared with 24 percent in 2011 and 17 percent in 2010. These same shoppers access third party sites and manufacturer sites at similar rates (69% and 68%, respectively). Additionally, more than one-half (53%) of these in-market shoppers access automotive content while physically at the dealership.

"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 websites to both manufacturers and shoppers alike grow exponentially," said Arianne Walker, senior director of media and marketing solutions at J.D. Power and Associates.

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%)
  • Compare vehicles (47%)

In just two years, automotive manufacturers have dramatically shifted the design, layout and navigation of their website in order to keep up with online shopper usage and mobile device sophistication. Previously, many mobile websites were text-based, with linear layouts and small text links that were designed for trackball and cursor navigation. In 2012, manufacturer sites that perform particularly well in appearance and navigation feature large, dynamic images and links that are suitable for touch-screen use. Additionally, current mobile websites host notably more content, replicating much of the desktop/laptop and tablet versions of websites that make the important content readily accessible anytime and anywhere. Previous mobile websites featured limited content as a supplement to desktop websites.

Although the percentage of shoppers using mobile websites to search for information during the shopping process has increased, satisfaction with mobile websites is not nearly as high as with tablet and desktop/laptop versions of manufacturers' websites. 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 websites.

"As usage trends continue to shift, mobile website 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."

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Tags: USA