Nearly One-Half of the New-Vehicle Intenders Willing to Use Online Vehicle Shopping

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Mercedes-Benz Ranks Highest in Brand Website Satisfaction in China

Shanghai: 12 September 2014 — Nearly one-half of consumers in China who expect to be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 12 months—known as intenders—are willing to use automaker websites to shop online for a vehicle, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2014 China Brand Website Evaluation StudySM (BWES) released today.

The study, now in its second year, measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites at the brand level during the new-vehicle shopping process by examining four key factors (in order of importance): navigation; speed; information and content; and appearance.   

With the rapid growth of online vehicle shopping in China, new-vehicle intenders are becoming more familiar with, and embracing, this new way of purchasing vehicles. The study finds that 46 percent of new-vehicle intenders are willing to use online vehicle shopping while only 3 percent are not willing to use it, and 31 percent still don’t know what online vehicle shopping is.

More than 70 percent of new-vehicle intenders cite quick process (77%) and good price (75%) as reasons to use online vehicle shopping. The primary reasons cited by intenders for not using online shopping include the quality of the vehicle being inconsistent with ads (74%); lack of customer rights’ protection (60%); not being able to test drive the vehicle (51%); and concerns with online payment safety (50%).

While the study focused on automotive manufacturer websites, it also examines other automotive websites new-vehicle intenders visit during the shopping process.  Among websites that provide vehicle-shopping services, Auto Home, BitAuto, Sohu Auto and Tmall are among the most visited by new-vehicle intenders looking for online shopping information.

If auto manufacturers were to provide online vehicle shopping on their official website, 44 percent of new-vehicle intenders say they “definitely would” negotiate the price of a vehicle on the site. Additionally, 42 percent of intenders say they “definitely would” schedule their vehicle pick-up or home delivery online, and 39 percent “definitely would” select and purchase a particular model online.  

“Consumers’ growing interest and intentions in online vehicle shopping is pushing the boundaries of the current offline-based purchasing experience,” said Dr. Mei Songlin, vice president and managing director at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Shanghai. “To embrace this inevitable market trend, auto manufacturers need to work out an online and offline shopping model that not only provides a good price and quick and easy selection, but also ensures vehicle quality and payment safety and offers test drive services.”

Overall satisfaction with automotive brand websites averages 752 on a 1,000-point scale in 2014, a 22-point increase from 2013. Mercedes-Benz ranks highest among brands in website satisfaction with an 807, followed by Geely (802) and BMW (800).

KEY FINDINGS

  • Nine automotive brands have made changes to their official website, which has led to an average satisfaction increase of 39 points among those nine brands. Most of the nine brands have improved their navigation to provide more focused and easy-to-find information.
  • ŸYear over year, there has been a 12 percent increase in new-vehicle intenders researching vehicle price information online; a 9 percent increase in searching for updates on newly launched vehicle/ promotion information; and an 8 percent increase in searching for dealers. Intenders are also exploring online shopping information—such as financial/ loan services, online booking and online consulting services—on brand websites 5 percent more often in 2014 than in 2013.
  • ŸWebsite speed is critical to intenders. Overall satisfaction averages 780 when website pages open within five seconds, but drops to 751 when the loading time is five to 10 seconds.
  • ŸThere is a very strong correlation between brand website satisfaction scores and shopper intentions to test drive and purchase a particular vehicle. Among new-vehicle intenders in the high satisfaction tier (overall satisfaction of 764 or higher), 20 percent say their test drive intention became “much higher” and 15 percent say their purchase intention became “much higher” after visiting the website, compared with 14 percent and 10 percent, respectively, among intenders in the low satisfaction tier (overall satisfaction of 728 or lower).

The 2014 China Brand Website Evaluation Study is conducted via online from 3,677 new-vehicle intenders who indicate they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 12 months and are invited to visit one of the 29 brand websites that presents the particular brand/ model they intend to purchase. The study was fielded in April and May 2014 in 73 major cities in China.

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