Dealers are being offered differing opinions and advice on whether to develop their separate mobile websites for tablets and smartphones or to use responsive web design (RWD) which adapts to each mobile device.
Nick Gee, Mobile Director at Auto Trader said: “A responsive website doesn’t work as well for mobile consumers because it will most often ignore the context of where and why the consumer is using a mobile.
“No dealer can afford to alienate consumers by providing a slow or inadequate mobile experience. If consumers don’t like what they see they will quickly visit another website.”
Whereas rival Motors.co.uk is advising dealers to keep their web design simple with RWD.
Andy Coulthurst, managing director at Motors.co.uk, said: "There is a very realistic chance that, by the end of 2013, half of all traffic to dealer and classified websites will come from mobile devices. In addition, there has been a great deal of talk in the past 18 months about the range of online marketing solutions, from responsive design to mobile-optimised sites, apps and social media.
"The reality is that, despite the obvious need to evolve, it can be challenging for a dealer to navigate through the 'marketing speak' and determine the best solution for their needs. With millions of potential buyers using thousands of different devices running on dozens of operating systems, it is important that a dealer is able to get their message across in the right way.
"Generally, one responsive website designed properly will be more effective that trying to develop a different offering for every available device. However, ultimately, the goal should be to ensure that the consumer has the best possible online experience and is able to find all the required information, regardless of their access point."
Emma Harvey, product and Strategy Director at Razsor, said: “Responsive website design is being recommended to dealers by many suppliers as a buzzword to simplify a complex area.
“It works fantastically for certain businesses but it’s not necessarily the right solution for dealers and the car-buying consumer.
“If dealers do go for a responsive solution they need to make sure designs for mobile are extremely well thought-out.”
Data from Motors.co.uk shows that 65% of dealers have already invested in separate mobile sites, 13% in iPhone apps and 2% have built an app for Android phones – which it believes is all “potentially wasted investment given the emergence of responsive websites”.
Mobile vs RWD
There does not seem to be a consistent view from within the industry as to which approach is better. Please leave your opinions in the comments section below as to which approach is better for automotive retail and why.