Volkswagen: mobile comparison tool

Summer 2017

Mentors: Paolo Benvenuto,
Alex Vejnoska

Timeframe: 4 weeks



Shopping for a new car is no longer limited to a traditional, in-person dealership interaction and transaction. Six out of 10 potential car buyers enter the car buying process without knowing exactly what car they will buy.1 Mobile technology has made information access and consumer research ubiquitous, and more and more consumers turn to the internet for answers. It becomes imperative for automakers to have a digital presence to provide information beyond the showroom floor.

The comparison tool becomes an important asset within this shopping experience. For four weeks of my time at Deutsch LA, I wanted to look into exactly how the Volkswagen comparison tool can help retain consumer interest from the beginning of the research process to the final purchasing.

Please note that this page is still being updated!

Research—


I completed a competitive audit to see what is currently being used in the market by competitor automobile brands. The purpose of this was to see how other brands were positioning their comparison tools, and to compare how Volkswagen’s current features lined up.


In regards to the mobile experience, the key features I looked at included:
  1. The presence of a mobile-compatible comparison tool.
  2. Was navigation to the comparison tool on mobile consistent to desktop experience?
  3. Maximum number of cars that could be compared in the mobile comparison tool.
  4. Whether ability to compare between trims, models and competitors were offered.


A matrix comparing mobile features by OEM. I did one for an audit of desktop features as well. You can see it here for reference.

Findings—


Mobile-friendly, two-column layout.
Two-thirds of surveyed OEM’s, including Volkswagen, had a mobile-compatible comparison tool. Most OEM’s allow up to 2 cars to be compared for mobile comparison. I saw this as a way to maximize the use of a smaller, mobile screen real estate, as cars can easily be compared side by side.

Volkwagen’s current mobile tool is ideal for mobile, but the long scroll prevents it from accessing answers quickly.


















Something I liked about some of the OEM’s was that they used expandable categories to display comparable features. Expanding categories provides a more personalized approach to the comparison experience­; consumer can choose what to view at given time narrow down what is being compared. This also provides consumer agency to find answers according to predetermined “checklist.”

However, I felt Volkswagen’s usage of larger fonts and spacing presents more “breathing room”, making it easier to digest the compared features without feeling too cramped.





Navigation to comparison tool in mobile is similar to desktop navigation.
In the audit I completed for comparison tools on a desktop environment, many OEMs’ mobile sites inherited the same navigation logic as their desktop counterpart.

Currently, the Volkswagen compare tool is only found under individual car model pages, where most surveyed OEM’s have access to a comparison tool from the home page as well.




Simple information presentation.
The large amount of information presented in a comparison tool should be presented in a way that is easy to understand. Comparison tool information should be limited to symbols or 5 words or less descriptions.

Volkswagen currently does this by using both symbols and minimal text. I particularly found their “yes/no” approach through blue-colored check marks and grey-colored “X’s” to indicate feature availability. It made it easy to scroll down the information and quickly see what each model was capable of.

Some examples of the information display used by VW.
 

There is a minimum need for comparison between models and trims.
As reflected in Volkswagen’s current comparison tool, comparison between models and trims is more common than competitor comparison in the mobile experience.

Something I thought about, though, was how the Volkswagen comparison tool could be a universal comparison tool if a competitor comparison function was available. Compared to many of the OEM’s surveyed, Volkswagen stands out as a tool that is clear when communicating comparative information. Adding a competitor factor in the comparison tool would provide the brand with more opportunities to retain buyers and interest through a well-designed shopping tool that can be used for all car buying needs.




Challenge—

How do we allow car buyers to access comparative information easily and conveniently through the mobile car shopping experience?
I had some time to briefly think about what features could be added to the comparison tool experience. I decided to focus on experiences that could be designed for the comparison tool to be activated both in and outside the physical space of the car dealership.
*this is still being updated! 

Thoughts—

Although this was definitely a short project, I’m thankful to have been able to get my hands a little dirty in exploring a tool that is ubiquitous within society. If I had more time, I would have liked to look into and addressed:

  1. Methods of informing people about a certain feature beyond the listed name. Many of the surveyed OEM’s had pictures within the comparison tool, but I found it hard to easily compare between cars, especially on a mobile environment.
© Hilary Lai, 2017