Auto Trader’s 2017 Digital Excellence Study has indicated that automotive beats nine comparable sectors when it comes to customer experience online.
Based on 40,000 reviews from 10,000 consumers, the survey recorded customers’ response to 145 websites from leading brands across 10 comparable industries.
In total, 37% of consumers scored the automotive sites a nine or 10, placing it above the cross-industry average of 35%. It also ranked a respectable third place, behind the Finance and Travel sectors (both recording 38%).
However, Auto Trader uncovered "a clear disparity" between the web offering of manufacturers and retailers.
While manufacturers increased to a leading 39%, each of the retail sectors dropped below the adjusted average of 36%. Franchise and supermarket both recorded 35%, whilst just 33% of consumers rated independent websites a nine or 10, placing them amongst the three lowest scoring industries (Insurance at 32% and Broadband/Telecoms 30%).
The Digital Excellence Study also highlighted the gap between perception and reality when it comes to trust.
When asked to review the level of trust and transparency of the respective automotive websites, just 27% of consumers rated the automotive industry a nine or 10.
That figure is comfortably above the 24% average, however. Split between sectors, retail too is performing well with both franchise and supermarket recording 25%. Independent dealers sat slightly below the average at 23%.
Nick King, Auto Trader’s insight director, said: “This is a hugely positive result and we’re thrilled to see the automotive industry perform well against other sectors, especially when it comes to trust, something which is so vital to the success of today’s dealers.
“The automotive sector should strive to become the benchmark in digital excellence for all other industries, and while we have some way to go, we’re clearly heading in the right direction.”
One bridge automotive needs to overcome to promote transparency and promote sales is the use of online jargon – terms that consumer struggle to understand.
Auto Trader found that, in its comparison of the ten industry sectors, automotive sat amongst the top three identified as having the most baffling jargon.
Only financial products (29%) and mobile phones (26%) topped new (24%) and used cars (23%) for the amount of confusing language.
Finance terms were highlighted as those most often misunderstood by consumers.
Among consumers’ other pet hates on automotive websites were a lack of car photos (47%) no car reviews (38%) and no reviews of the dealership (38%), Auto Trader said.
King said: “Offering well-presented and clear imagery that reflect the true condition of the car, pricing that is in line with the market and reviews that offer genuine insight are all key to building the all-important trust.
“What’s more, at a time when car buyers have so much choice, creating a rich, jargon-free digital experience is vital in not only standing out in an increasingly competitive market, but also converting a visit to a sale.”