Mobile Comes Up Short Among Auto Shoppers

Although general mobile usage is about to surpass desktop, there are some activities that are still better suited for desktop, especially among automotive shoppers.

Desktop vs Mobile


Have you ever tried building or customizing a vehicle from your phone? How about comparing specs across several different vehicles? The small screen of a mobile phone just doesn’t measure up to a desktop interface. Dealerships and manufacturers have made significant investments making sure their sites are mobile ready but simply relying on a responsive design doesn’t make it any easier to engage with these more complex tools. Other points that are better on desktop include researching warranty information and watching videos on manufacturer websites.

On the other hand, in-market research and comparison searches on mobile devices has more than tripled since 2011 making mobile an important ad format for auto dealerships. According to JD Power, 48 percent of vehicle buyers that shop on a mobile device use their smartphone while at the dealership, primarily to access vehicle pricing as well as model information, inventory searches, and special offers and incentives. When looking to buy a car, shoppers turn to mobile for a variety of reasons. The top 5 research activities on mobile are to view cars/trucks, call a dealer, read reviews, view current offers, and locate a dealer. Car shoppers are also using mobile for the same comparison activities. There are two primary actions in-market mobile shoppers do once they are on the lot; comparison/research and pricing activities. Comparison/research activities include looking at reviews, checking out a specific model, or reaching out to a family or friend for advice. If the car shopper is ready to buy they may search for pricing information, hours and contact information of a dealership, or researching discounts or other offers.

Automotive Mobile Usage

According to research from Facebook, vehicle shoppers in the US not only use mobile devices as they research both new and used cars, they even prefer them for other activities. A majority of vehicle shoppers, for example, said mobile was a better way to ask friends and family about auto options, and about two in five preferred to book a test drive from a mobile device.

Vehicle Shopping Activities That Work Better on Desktop vs Mobile Devices According to US Vehicle Shoppers Sept 2015

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Note: Ages 18-64 who intended to buy/lease a new vehicle in the next year; among those who primarily used a mobile device for auto research.

In Summary

So, instead of trying to recreate the desktop experience on a mobile phone or tablet, dealerships and manufacturers should focus on specific functionality within their mobile site; reading reviews and features, finding the nearest dealership, searching inventory, contacting a dealership, scheduling a test drive and communicating with a salesperson. 58% of car shoppers say, that in the future, their smartphone is likely to be the only device they use for all their vehicle research.

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