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Multi-device car shoppers to more than double by 2018: report

While only 23 percent of car shoppers currently use more than one device for shopping, the number is expected to increase to more than 50 percent by 2018, according to a report from

The “Multi-Device Car Shopping Study” looked at how consumers combine smartphones, tablets and desktops to shop for vehicles. PCs are still the primary device for car shopping, but anticipates a huge growth in multi-device shopping.

“As car shopping continues to become on-demand, having an inviting mobile experience across smartphones and tablets will allow marketers to be a part of shoppers’ consideration processes by being available whenever and wherever they are shopping—in the home, at work and on-the-go,” said Isabelle Helms, senior director of research and marketing analytics at,  Atlanta, GA.

“We expect the number of multi-device shoppers to more than double by the year 2018, so marketers will need to develop innovative and effective strategies sooner rather than later that will enable them to deliver the right content at the right time and on the right device,” she said.

“Shoppers are consuming media across different devices and desire a fluid, streamlined experience. The same can be said for the advertising messages that are being delivered. Dealers and OEMs need to be consistent with their messages across devices while delivering them in a way that is appropriate for each device.”

Car shopping
Consumers seem to have been a bit slower to adopt mobile for car shopping than they have been for other industries. Yet expects the adoption to pick up speed in the near future.

While the report does predict that mobile car shopping will become more popular, it does not think that it will replace PCs entirely, rather supplement them.

According to the study, 80 percent think that multi-device usage enhances the vehicle shopping process, 78 percent think it increased their knowledge about automobiles, 77 percent think it empowered them when shopping for a vehicle and 57 percent think it shortened the purchase process.

Mobile helps consumers be able to shop whenever and wherever they want, so it can cut back on time and help consumers be more efficient when car shopping.

According to the study, three out of four car shopping activities were spontaneous, and 25 percent of multi-device users reported that a top motivator for shopping on a device was that they found free time and had access to the device.

The second leading motivator for smartphone users at 26 percent and PC users at 22 percent was “seeing a car on the street.” Mobile would definitely come in handy if this was the trigger to car shopping.

Television commercials were the third motivating factors, at 18 percent for PCs, 16 percent for smartphones and 23 percent for tablets.

Advertising everywhere
Another interesting finding in the study was that only two percent of the total shopping activities conducted by multi-device users occurs at a dealership in a typical week.

Additionally, more than half of multi-device users start their car search on a smartphone or tablet.

Of the report’s respondents, 38 percent said that not offering a mobile-optimized site would negatively impact brand opinion, and 68 percent said that offering a poor mobile site experience would negatively impact brand opinion.

Since the car shopping experience can span multiple devices as well as offline events and advertising, marketers need to make sure that they present consistent messages wherever a shopper may encounter the brand.

“Dealers are investing heavily in building out their websites primarily for desktops, but they need to start thinking about what consumers are looking for on smartphones and tablets to ensure that they are optimizing for those, particularly since over 50 percent of car shoppers will be using multiple devices by 2018,” Ms. Helms said. “One area of opportunity is to enable shoppers to do more self-education on the lot from a mobile device.

“Dealers and OEMs both need to be thinking strategically about how they can streamline the mobile experience for consumers, and one thing they can do is create a ‘hub’ or a ‘cloud’ that would enable shoppers to pick up where they left off when they last experienced the brand or dealership regardless of device,” she said.

“For dealers, that might be a place where consumers can log-in from their phones to access their recent searches or saved vehicles they were looking at on their PCs; for OEMs, it could be a way for shoppers to view previous vehicles they’ve priced and built between devices.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York