AutoTrader: Only 2 of 3 of dealership Web visits are for vehicle shopping

David Barkholz is a reporter for Automotive News.
UPDATED: 2/13/13 10:26 a.m. ET

ORLANDO -- After reviewing nearly 3 million dealer Web site visits at 3,000 dealers recently, AutoTrader found that 32 percent of dealer Web visitors go to the site for something other than shopping.

One in three visitors want to find contact information, look up a service special, make a maintenance appointment or do something that has nothing to do with vehicle shopping. AutoTrader knows because it can tag the visitors anonymously on the 3,000 sites and watch where they go.

So how to use this factoid?

AutoTrader CEO Chip Perry suggests that dealers consider emphasizing parts and service more prominently on their sites. Typically, service is just one of nine pull-down tabs at the top of the dealer's Web page. Clearly, lots of people are looking for service information or specials. For the most part, dealers pack their home pages with vehicles and an occasional special.

It really should be no surprise to dealers that people are visiting their sites for service information. Traditionally, about one in three phones calls to a dealership is for service. Why wouldn't that be similar for Web visits?

Big data is a big theme at this year's NADA. Sometimes, big data can hold little facts that yield results.

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