May 24, 2007

Volvo of Canada Web site rates highest with shoppers, says J.D. Power

Toronto, Ontario – The Volvo Cars of Canada Ltd. Web site ranks highest among 27 auto manufacturers in satisfying Canadian new-vehicle shoppers, according to a study released by J.D. Power and Associates.

The study, now in its second year, examines Canadian manufacturer Web sites from the viewpoint of shoppers who intend to purchase a new vehicle within the next twelve months. The study ranked the importance of information/content (37 per cent), ease of navigation (22 per cent), the site’s appearance (21 per cent) and speed of page loading (20 per cent).

Volvo ranked highest, with an overall index score of 846 points on a 1,000-point scale, performing particularly well in loading speed, information/content and navigation. Mazda was just behind with 845 points, and Lexus third with 833 points.

“New-vehicle shoppers are increasingly turning to the Internet as a means of researching their vehicle options,” says Rohan Lobo, senior manager of automotive syndicated research. “There is a strong link between shopper satisfaction with a manufacturer’s Web site and the intention to consider a brand, which in turn makes having an easy-to-navigate, efficient and attractive Web site a critical weapon in the battle for market share.”

The study found that satisfaction with Web sites has declined from 813 points in the 2006 study, to 805 points in 2007. In particular, shoppers are less satisfied with the speed and navigation factors. Luxury brands declined more than non-luxury brands.

“Manufacturers continuously struggle with the gap between user expectations and Web site execution,” Lobo says. “Most users see the Internet as a tool rather than a replacement for a showroom, and while vehicle images and the overall appearance of the Web site do impact satisfaction, there has to be a balance between design and functionality. Frustration stemming from the excesses of creative zeal is apparent, as users wait for the latest Flash animation to load and are forced to forego valuable research time.”

The study also found that shoppers consider several features useful, including the ability to request a price quote directly from a dealer and obtain a brochure online; there was less interest in completing credit applications online, or scheduling an appointment with a salesperson prior to visiting the dealership. The study was based on evaluations by 4,281 new-vehicle shoppers.

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