J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Providing a More Satisfying Experience on Third-Party Automotive Websites Yields More Loyal Shoppers and Website Advocates


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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA--March 26, 2013: Third-party automotive websites have an opportunity to create loyal and outspoken advocates by providing a satisfying website experience, whether consumers are shopping for a new or used vehicle, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study released today.

The inaugural study measures the usefulness of third-party automotive websites during the new- and used-vehicle shopping process by examining four key measures (in order of importance): information/content; navigation; appearance; and speed. Overall satisfaction with third-party automotive websites averages 725 (on a 1,000-point scale).

The study finds a high correlation between overall satisfaction with a third-party automotive website and the likelihood to recommend and return to the site.

"The websites with the highest overall satisfaction also have the highest advocacy and loyalty rates in the study," said Arianne Walker, senior director of media and marketing solutions at J.D. Power and Associates. "A more satisfying experience will keep shoppers coming back, positively impacting site analytics and increasing exposure to the revenue-generating advertising on the sites."

Providing a satisfying experience on third-party automotive websites comes with certain challenges that manufacturer sites do not have. For instance, third-party sites need to strike a balance between the content provided and the revenue-generating advertising content. In addition, shoppers expect third-party sites to have information and images on all makes and model years.

"The large amount of information required for third-party automotive sites to be useful presents a unique challenge, as the information must be organized in a user-friendly way, weighing heavily on strong navigation and good user experience principles," said Walker.

New- vs. Used-Vehicle Shoppers
Additionally, the study finds that satisfaction is higher among new-vehicle shoppers than among used-vehicle shoppers (735 vs. 715, respectively). One of the contributing factors to this difference in satisfaction is the disparate experiences shoppers often have when trying to locate vehicle information for new vs. used vehicles.

A key contributing factor to a less satisfying experience when shopping for used vehicles, compared with new vehicles on a third-party site, is that shoppers have to make very specific decisions regarding a vehicle model --such as model year or trim level--in order to explore available content. In contrast, when shopping for new vehicles, shoppers are able to obtain vehicle content more quickly and without requiring decisions regarding vehicle details before exploring the model, creating a more seamless experience as they view multiple vehicles.

"With most third-party automotive sites, the shopping experience is different among new- and used-vehicle shoppers," said Walker. "Websites that perform particularly well in the study provide a consistent shopping experience, including much of the same content, for both groups of shoppers."

Study Rankings
Cars.com ranks highest in the inaugural study with a score of 782. Following Cars.com in the rankings is Kelley Blue Book (777) and AOL Autos (753).

The 2013 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study is based on evaluations from more than 4,200 new and used-vehicle shoppers who indicate they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months. The study was fielded in January and February 2013.

Overall Index Scores

J.D. Power.com Power Circle Ratings

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

For Consumers




Cars.com

782

5

Kelley Blue Book

777

5




Aol Autos

753

4

Edmunds.com

748

4

Yahoo! Autos

745

4

Autobytel

744

4

AutoTrader.com

743

4

NADA GUIDES

739

4




MSN Autos

731

3

Study Average

725

3

CarGurus

724

3

TRUECar

721

3

eBay Motors

716

3

Automotive.com

707

3

CarsDirect

707

3




MOTOR TREND

705

2

The Car Connection

705

2

Automobile Magazine

697

2

U.S. News Autos

696

2

Internet Auto Guide

695

2

CAR AND DRIVER

692

2

Car.com

690

2

Power Circle Ratings Legend:
5 -- Among the best
4 -- Better than most
3 -- About average
2 -- The rest

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