AutoTrader: Car Shoppers Go Mobile

Just about everyone goes surfing to car shop. But since more consumers are shopping for products on the small, mobile screen, automakers and car dealers need to “get small.” They have a little time, though. Only 23% of car shoppers are using two or more devices, per Atlanta-based third-party auto site But the firm also says smartphones will be part of the research and purchase process for 50% of auto shoppers by 2018.

And consumers are, so far, happy using mobile to research and shop. Eighty percent of participants in a new AutoTrader study on multi-device car shopping think multi-device usage enhances the vehicle shopping process. Seventy-eight percent think multi-device usage increased their knowledge about automobiles and over three-quarters think that multi-device usage empowered them when shopping for a vehicle. Over half said multi-device usage shortened the purchase process.



The study, based on week-long mobile diaries from 2,500 multi-device auto shoppers, and 1,000 followup surveys, also finds that a lot of consumer behaviors favor use of mobile for car consideration. Three-quarters of auto shopping activities were spontaneous, and 25% of multi-device users reported that they ogle cars online during periods of idle time, whether walking around or snoozing at their cubicle desk. And spotting an enticing vehicle on the street was the second leading motivator for 26% of smartphone users and 22% of laptop users. 

Television commercials ranked in the top three motivating factors across devices as well, with 18% of users saying they did so on PC/laptops; 16% saying smartphones and 23% tablets. Only 2% of consumers said they used the Internet at a dealership in a typical week. 

Isabelle Helms, who headed up the research at AutoTrader, tells Marketing Daily that mobile adoption for car shopping is being driven by -- who else -- Millennials. She says 28% of them use tablets and 34% smartphones. "We learned that smartphones make shopping a positive experience.” 

The study also looked at how consumer perception of a car brand is influenced by the automaker’s use of mobile as a research and shopping site. Thirty-eight percent of study participants said they would have a lower opinion of a brand if it offered no mobile version of their website. But 68% of respondents said they would have a negative perception of a brand if it offered a poor mobile-screen experience. "If you are going to offer [a mobile site] either do it right or don't do it at all," says Helms.

And, she pointed out that effectively connecting shopping and research experiences across devices is a brand loyalty driveer, which makes sense intuitively: nothing is a bigger turnoff than filling out an online form or car configuration on one device only to have to do it all over again on another. "People don't want to have to wake up, pick up a tablet and configure a car, get to their laptops and have to start from scratch," she says. "And automakers need to do things like offer a simple log-in process." 

And, she says, dealerships need to be mobile friendly. "Millennials will expect to be able to leverage their device in dealerships to do their research and shopping. They don't like high-pressure environments. It could be little things like simply offering WiFi capabilities."

1 comment about "AutoTrader: Car Shoppers Go Mobile".
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  1. Rodney Mason from parago, October 11, 2013 at 8:53 a.m.

    We conducted a national study on showrooming and found auto shopping on mobile is even higher than what Auto Trader is reporting here. 33% of adult smart phone owners use their phones when shopping for autos. Our study - "Dynamic Pricing In A Smartphone World," is available at this link.

    Rodney Mason, CMO

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