Run, Don’t Walk and Get Yourself a Responsive Mobile Website for Your Dealership

Mobile usage is skyrocketing around the world. In fact mobile usage will pass desktop usage this year, in 2014! If you don’t have a mobile strategy, it is an action item that you should focus on. Right now, today, take a look at your website analytics and you’ll see 10-30% of your traffic is from mobile devices. This internet trend report shows that mobile traffic is up to 25% in 2014 from 14% in 2013. This number will only increase and ensuring your merchandising fits the device will lead to success for your dealership.

MotorLot responsive layout

I ran a report analyzing all of MotorLot’s dealer traffic and found that 21% of visitors are using mobile devices and that number is climbing. This is an industry wide trend across used car dealers and franchise dealers. Comparing one month, May, year-over-year 2013 to 2014 mobile sessions are up 250%, bounce rate has improved 29%, pages per session is up 17% and average session duration is up 10%. Not only are customers more comfortable accessing via mobile devices but they are doing more and staying on the dealer sites with responsive design longer!MotorLot mobile traffic climbing

The most popular mobile devices used are:

  • Apple iPhone – 32%
  • Apple iPad – 24%
  • Samsung Galaxy S III – 3%
  • Samsung Galaxy S IV – 2%
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD – 2%
  • Motorola Droid Razr 4G – 1%

What is a Responsive Template?

Simply, a web design that adapts to the screen size of the viewing device. The goal is optimal viewing and functionality of the website when accessing via a desktop computer, tablet or a mobile phone’s browser. With optimal viewing the user is encouraged to explore the site, spend more time on the site and ultimately achieve their goals more easily.

The problems with not having a responsive template for your car dealership are numerous; text font may be too small to read, plugins like chat may not work correctly, linking may not work properly, pinching and zooming on an item are annoying, etc.

Get a Responsive Design Instead of a Mobile Theme

Going with a mobile theme means twice as much work for you and your team. Updates, design elements, plugins, code all has to be added twice and maintained. Analytics and user behavior is far easier to track on one website versus multiple websites. You’ll often see a link at the bottom of a site using mobile templates that reads “View Desktop version” or some variant of this language. It is not obvious to the user that there are two different templates to chose from. Why not just make it easy for the user!? It is an older technology for a reason.

With a responsive design the website looks great on a desktop and adjusts for any device that your customers are using like an iPad, Android phone, Kindle or iPhone. For example here is one of our dealers Bernard Motorcar’s site on the desktop:

Bernard Motorcar desktop website

And here is what the site looks like on an iPhone 5s Safari browser:

Bernard Motorcar mobile site

The links and photos are easily clickable with a finger and the text is large and readable. Here is the text for a vehicle page:

Bernard Motorcar vehicle page

Non-responsive and Non-mobile Will Turn Your Customers Off

Surprisingly, you’ll see high-end franchise dealers and large used car dealerships that still don’t have a mobile strategy. The budget should be there and with that much traffic presumable coming in, it is a BIG wasted opportunity! Not to pick on this dealer, but here is an example. Desktop version:

Chapman Ford desktop

They don’t have a mobile theme or a responsive design, so here is what you get on a mobile browser:

Chapman Ford mobile

As you can see it is very difficult to navigate and click anything without zooming in. Usability goes down the drain quickly with this theme. When I went to click the Mustang for sale I accidentally clicked the chat which completely shut down the browsing experience as the chat operator was responding. It was a frustrating experience and that was all within the first 5 seconds. As a buyer, I would never spend another second trying to navigate around that site!


Without a doubt, a mobile strategy should be a task that you complete for you and your team in 2014. Look for a vendor that offers their templates with responsive design that won’t up charge you. There is no reason to do twice the work maintaining a desktop website and a mobile site in 2014. You’ll be happy you made the switch and effort because you’ll see the effect in your bottom line!

What else; have you seen any good or bad (!) dealer mobile sites?

May 30, 2014 - Written by

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