Study: Mobile-friendly Web sites are crucial
LOS ANGELES -- More than half of consumers who use smartphones to research a vehicle before buying do so while at a dealership, J.D. Power and Associates' 2012 Automotive Mobile Site Study found.
Nearly a third of vehicle shoppers who intend to buy or lease a new vehicle within the next two years visited mobile versions of automotive Web sites with smartphones to research a vehicle purchase, up from 24 percent last year and 17 percent in 2010. Of those shoppers, 53 percent looked up vehicle information while at a dealership.
The trend underscores the importance of so-called mobile sites -- Web pages designed to be viewed on a smartphone's small screen -- to manufacturers and consumers alike, Arianne Walker, J.D. Power's senior director of media and marketing solutions, said in a statement.
"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," Walker said.
But consumers were less satisfied with automotive mobile sites designed for smartphones than with Web sites designed to be viewed on desktop or laptop computers and tablets, such as the Apple iPad.
The study found that more than two-thirds of shoppers using smartphones visited mobile sites of automakers as well as third-party sites. Two-thirds of shoppers researched vehicle pricing information, while more than half looked up vehicle specifications, photo galleries and reviews.
Nearly half of smartphone-wielding car shoppers used their devices to compare vehicles, the survey found.
Automakers have taken notice. The survey found that the mobile Web sites of auto brands provide more content than previous versions, more closely replicating content available on traditional Web sites designed for desktop computers. Layouts are also more dynamic, with more images and links than the simpler text-based mobile sites of just a few years ago.
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