A brand’s ultimate goal is to drive customers to dealers, but a negative dealer site experience may undo all of the goodwill that a brand has built.
Brands should invest in templatized, mobile-optimized dealer sites, as 36% of car owners report that dealer sites had a significant impact on their purchase decision, equaling the influence of family and friend testimony. 59% of brands tracked in Gartner L2’s study deployed consistent search and navigation features on dealer homepages. Just over half implemented consistent URL structures and new vehicle inventory tools. However, less than half maintained uniform aesthetics, and only 53% of all analyzed dealer sites were optimized for mobile. Mobile optimization is particularly important, as on-the-go customers may try to locate nearby dealers or be on the lot looking for more information.
Brands’ competency in this arena correlates with price point, and by extension, the size of dealer networks. Ultra-luxury brands have small, manageable dealership networks, with an average of 46 U.S. dealers. As a result, all ultra-luxury brands tout consistent URL structures, aesthetics, new vehicle inventory tools and homepage search and navigation features across dealer sites. 86% of analyzed ultra-luxury dealer sites were optimized for mobile, far above the 47% average across all other price points. Moving from ultra-luxury down to value brand dealer sites, consistency generally declines. However, more value brands have mobile-optimized dealer sites than their higher-end counterparts. At the enterprise level, Nissan Motor Co. and General Motor Co. (GM) outperform the rest. Nissan maintains a common URL structure and, among its sample set, ensures that its dealer sites are optimized for mobile. Nissan Motor Co.’s INFINITI has about 300 U.S. dealerships, 6 times as many as the average ultra-luxury brand, yet it is the only brand not in the ultra-luxury category to achieve a perfect consistency score. GM brands Cadillac, Buick and GMC are also clear outliers.
By establishing structural guidelines and possibly rolling out site templates, GM is able to achieve uniform aesthetics despite its brands having anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 dealer sites.