J.D. Power recently released their 2016 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study — Summer. It found that the use of shopping tools on auto manufacturer websites can significantly boost consumer satisfaction among those shopping for a new vehicle.

The semiannual study is in its 17th year. It measures the "usefulness" of OEM websites during the new-vehicle shopping process. It does so by examining four key measures, which are listed in order of importance:

  • Information/content
  • Appearance
  • Speed
  • Navigation

J.D. Power then calculated satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale, based on the responses from consumers in the market for a new vehicle. Here's who came out on top:

auto manufacturer websites

Source: J.D. Power 2016 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study — Summer

Consumer Satisfaction

According to the study, almost all new vehicle buyers spend time on manufacturer websites. J.D. Power says that customer satisfaction with those sites is mostly driven by the quality of the content.

And consumer satisfaction on OEM websites undoubtedly leads to car sales. For example:

  • 57% of shoppers who are "delighted" with the website experience indicate they're more likely to test drive a vehicle.
  • Only 16% of consumers who are "disappointed" with their website experience indicate they're more likely to test drive an automobile.

Online Shopping Tools

Furthermore, a number of online shopping tools were found to positively affect consumer satisfaction. These include:

  • The use of the manufacturer's configurator
  • A compare tool
  • Exterior and interior 360 degree view
  • Offers and incentives
  • Payment calculator

According to the J.D. Power Online-to-Offline analytics benchmarks, "many of these tools also are positively correlated with vehicle purchase."

3 Key Attributes Content on Auto Manufacturer Websites Must Contain

Arianne Walker, the senior director of marketing analytics at J.D. Power, also highlighted three key attributes that the content on auto manufacturer websites must embody.

  • It must be easy to access.
  • Provides sufficient detail to answer shoppers' questions.
  • It must help tell the brand's story.

These factors should be kept in mind as manufacturers try to implement online shopping tools and monitor their content to keep up with shopper's expectations and needs in today's digital world.

"There's a direct connection between manufacturers that utilize their digital showroom effectively and satisfied shoppers who then become buyers," Walker said.

Other Key Findings

Here are two more findings from the J.D. Power 2016 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study — Summer.

  • "Positive Experience Drives Improved Brand Image Perception" - 40% of shoppers think better of a brand after their website experience. A positive website experience can help drive key brand characteristics.
  • Gen Y Shoppers Use and Like Online Shopping Tools More - The younger shoppers of Generation Y (who J.D. Power defines as those born from 1977-1994) use online shopping tools at a higher rate than Baby Boomers. They also tend to show a more positive perception of a brand after visiting an OEM website compared to Boomers.

The Bottom Line

Dealers should note that consumers who have access to shopping tools tend to be more satisfied with their car-shopping experience. When a consumer is satisfied, they are surely more likely to become buyers.

Another way to get some serious buyers into your store is teaming up with Auto Credit Express. We provide unmatched special finance sales leads and LotPro, the most effective subprime tool around that helps you increase your per-unit gross profit. Our leads are serious and ready to buy now - 32% of them buy a car within 60 days according to an independent study by R.L. Polk.

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