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What We Learned About Web Performance From Building 100+ Auto Dealership Websites With Gatsby

Charles Wood
October 12th, 2022

Our company built 100+ auto dealership websites on Gatsby. We found that every extra second of page load time increases bounce rate roughly 1.5% and decreases session duration about 10%.

Background

My company, MXS Solutions, built a site templating solution called Dealer Masters for auto dealership websites that is built on top of Gatsby. We’ve generated several hundred websites of Ford, Toyota, and Nissan dealerships. These sites advertise the inventory currently on the lot so prospective buyers can decide whether they’d like to come in for a drive.

Two of our biggest value propositions are our template and web performance. Because we have a great template battle-tested for hundreds of customers, clients can ensure they’re getting a site that looks great. And because it’s built on Gatsby, they know it will be fast.  

As MXS’s CFO, one of my roles in our organization is quantifying the results we are delivering to our clients. I believe that benchmarking and verifying claims is an important aspect of any industry. 

In the website world, understanding how performance indicators affect business outcomes allows for data driven decisions and helps create successful companies. 

Comparing Gatsby websites to competitors

As we’ve built more and more sites, we’ve seen our client’s sites are much faster than their competitors. One particular case our client and their largest competitor, who each owned several auto dealerships in the same region, shared website performance data with each other. The difference was stark.

 

KPI 

Dealer Masters

(Built on Gatsby)

Average 

Competitor 

Percent

Difference

Bounce Rate 

28.75%  47.85%  -39.92%

Overall Load speed 

3.43  7.43 

-53.81%

CPC Bounce Rate 

41.40% 58.37% 

-29.04%

Organic Bounce Rate  23.11%  29.94% 

-22.82%

Methodology

With access to a small pool of several hundred clients’ website performance through Google Analytics, MXS has endeavored to benchmark several key performance indicators for websites in the automotive space. We then tried to correlate these with business metrics like bounce rate and session duration – because these sites are templated, it makes for a great “apples-to-apples” comparison. 

We looked at sites where we had continuous data from January to June 2022, across dealerships for a variety of different car companies (Toyota, Ford, Nissan, etc)

Results

Two metrics showed the biggest improvement upon migrating to Gatsby: bounce rate and session duration.

Bounce rates for auto dealerships are fairly high relative to other industries – users often open a number of competing dealership sites in rapid succession and, if a dealership doesn’t have the car model they want in stock, go on to the next one. 

Still, performance matters substantially. Every additional second of load time, on average, increased bounce rate by 1.6%. So going from 4 second load times to 8 second load times would increase bounce rate, on average, from 43% to 50%.

chart-1

Performance also drastically impacted session duration: every additional second of page load time decreased users’ time on site by about 6%.

In other words, when pages loaded in 4 seconds, users would stay on site for around 130 seconds. Whereas if the pages loaded in 8 seconds, they would stay on site for less than 100. 

chart-2

Conclusion

Our data supports many other studies showing that user experience is heavily influenced by the website’s speed. 

Leaders in every space have begun investing heavily into their online presence and in many cases allocated a speed budget for their development team, a practice adopted by Dealer Masters, which has already borne fruit by more than doubling the average automotive platform’s performance. 

We’re excited about the future – because going forward, our lead will only increase as we continue to leverage Gatsby and develop our platform – while most of our competitors try to force old technology to compete.

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A spreadsheets programmer that prides in automating anything possible. CFO at MXS Solutions.

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