Auto Service World
News   May 25, 2010   by Auto Service World

J.D. Power Finds Satisfaction With Car Maker’s Web Sites Means More Showroom Traffic

New-vehicle shoppers who are highly satisfied with their automotive manufacturer Web site experience are more likely to test drive a vehicle from that manufacturer’s lineup, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Canadian Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study released today.

The study finds that the likelihood to test drive a vehicle after visiting that manufacturer’s Web site increases by 22 per cent among highly satisfied new-vehicle shoppers (scores higher than 900 on a 1,000-point scale), compared with less-satisfied shoppers (scores of 700 points or less).

“Sixty percent of shoppers in the market for a new vehicle in the next year have already visited a manufacturer’s Web site, and twice as many shoppers visit a manufacturer’s site compared with a third-party site,” said Ryan Robinson, Canadian automotive practice leader at J.D. Power and Associates. “As a result, it’s crucial for manufacturers to provide shoppers with an effective and satisfying Web site – particularly when it is likely to result in increased showroom traffic.”

The study also finds that shoppers are becoming more interested in advanced functionality on manufacturer Web sites, such as the ability to schedule a sales appointment or complete a credit application. For example, 40 per cent of consumers in 2010 report wanting to be able to complete a credit application through the manufacturer Web site, compared with 30 per cent in 2009. This trend also emphasizes the importance for manufacturers to create an effective transition between the digital and physical shopping experience.

Despite the increase in consumer interest for advanced Web site functionality, many manufacturer Web sites are not optimizing these features. Among shoppers who say they wanted to schedule a sales appointment, 76 per cent say they were not able to do so. Similarly, 72 per cent of shoppers who wanted to complete a credit application were unable to do so.

“Although advanced functionality on manufacturer Web sites was once thought of as more of a novelty, shoppers are becoming increasingly comfortable using these functions and have come to expect them,” said Robinson. “Ensuring that these options are present, function properly and are easy to use may go a long way in improving the overall Web site experience for shoppers.”

Now in its fifth year, the study examines Canadian automotive manufacturer Web sites from the perspective of shoppers who intend to purchase a new vehicle within the next 12 months. Four factors contribute to overall customer satisfaction: information/content; speed of pages loading on the Web site; ease of navigating throughout the Web site; and appearance of the Web site.

Lexus ranks highest in customer satisfaction with a score of 843 on a 1,000-point scale, performing particularly well across all four factors. Mazda follows in the rankings with 825, and Toyota ranks third with 822.

The 2010 Canadian Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study is based on evaluations provided by 2,274 new-vehicle shoppers who indicated they would be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 12 months. The study was fielded between March and April 2010.