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If you have been following some of my recent writings on car dealer mobile websites, ( Your Website is Broken and You Don't Even Know It or SEM to Dealer VDP Pages Is Like Throwing Money Out The Window ) then what I am about to address in this article is more food for thought on your website strategy. The bottom line is this: "35% of all the traffic that comes to a car dealer is via a MOBILE DEVICE". Some dealers are already seeing that number in the 50% range! Google predicts by the end of 2014, 50% may be the new standard.
So what does this mean for you as a car dealer? It’s time to do some housekeeping and checks on all the third party providers you are paying money to when their product does not contain a mobile compatible version. Think of the money you are paying to a third party plugin provider whose product only works 65% of the time. This equals opportunity lost!
As owner of Dealer e Process, it is in the best interest that I look after our clients and educate them as to things that may affect their business of selling more cars. In its simplest format, lost opportunity (leads) equals lost business (car sales).
So I decided to do some auditing on all of the websites that we have online for our clients, analyze who was using a third party plugin (quick credit app, value trade-in tool, service scheduler, etc.) and find out whether or not this application existed on the mobile side of their website (or if a solution even exists for the mobile version of the dealer's website.)
There are THREE types of mobile websites that exist for car dealers today when it comes to mobile websites – Responsive Design, Adaptive Design, or Third Party Mobile Purchase (Advanced Mobile or Gumiyo) for example. A brief explanation and my thoughts are below.
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of re-sizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors). A site designed with RWD adapts the layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images, and CSS3 media queries, an extension of the
Adaptive Design – This is the choice of Dealer e Process strategy.
Adaptive Web Design is basically the same as responsive design and shares many of the same ideals and goals. The main difference, however, is that the changes are made on the server side rather than the client side. Adaptive websites are designed to respond and adapt to different screen sizes using responsive techniques, and to adapt to different User requirements based on different device capabilities.
The responsive design aspect of adaptive design involves the implementation of various design factors such as flexible layouts, CSS file alternatives and flexible images, which are activated using media queries.
Adaptive web design also encompasses a range of other strategies which, when combined with responsive design techniques, enables you to deliver the best possible User experience to the widest possible audience.This means that numerous functionalities and environmental factors can be catered for in the most User-friendly way, depending on the particular device being used to access your website.
In my opinion, the biggest downside to Responsive Design is the performance implications that come with serving the same content scaled for mobile
devices. When dealing with images, designers and developers are struggling to implement concrete solutions on how to handle image optimization for experiences on a large desktop screen vs. a small mobile device. Serving the same hi-res image scaled down in size as the device gets smaller is not optimal and requesting a new image for each layout causes too many HTTP requests.
With Adaptive, designers and developers have complete control over what content will be served up and when. Think of it as serving completely different websites depending on which device the user is on. This means that all the content, functionality and layout can be customized and optimized for that particular device.
Responsive is relying on fluid and flexible grids giving the user a single experience across multiple devices. This is great for simplistic sites but what happens when all your conversion points have reconfigured to the bottom of the page (your lead forms or contact us boxes)?
Think about how many third party companies have plugins (Blackbook Online, Dealercentric, Purecars, Autotrader Market Place, Live Chat etc) How would these third party plugins work when the third party plugin was not created with Responsive Design? They won’t. It will take every third party to build a responsive plugin for any dealer using a Responsive Website Design in order for this to work. The problem is, most vendors are still working on a mobile version to begin with!
Third Party Mobile Purchase
The last to address is the Third Party Mobile Purchase. There are a few website providers that do not own their own mobile technology. One major vendor that comes to mind is Reynolds & Reynolds (they use Gumiyo). There are a few others I will not mention. This is probably the worst solution a dealer can have today as far as keeping your inventory, ads, etc. in-line with the desktop version of your website. Dealers would have to manage two different versions of their website (desktop & mobile) to keep things consistent. Car dealers completely lose all of their custom content, unique inventory pages etc. as all of these pages are designed to redirect to the home page of the mobile version of the website when clicked on by a consumer (because this content does not exist on the mobile platform). Imagine the confusion customers must be experiencing when opening emails from their mobile phone that contain links to vehicles that all redirect to the homepage of a mobile website! http://www.westgermanmotors.com/UsedSpecials.aspx Here is a link from the desktop version of this website, it’s supposed to show you specials, however, if you click this link from a mobile device, you will be redirected to the homepage of the mobile website (not the specials page). Or better yet, click any link after searching the dealer's name on Google. Every link redirects to the mobile homepage. See screenshots below.
Without singling out any one third party provider, I do have some interesting stats to report on my findings.
Here’s The Tip: It’s time to hold your website provider & third party plugin provider accountable for costing your dealership business. Inspect what you expect! 2014 is right around the corner, maybe it’s time to make a change that will truly impact your business and help you sell some more cars.