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In 2012 there were 2.5m rental vehicles in the UK and the industry is estimated to be worth £12bn per year.
So there’s clearly a huge opportunity for car rental companies to make a lot of money.
The most popular businesses in this sector are Europcar, Alamo, Budget, Thrifty Car and Van Rental, National Car Hire and Hertz, but as each is essentially offering the same product, customer experience is an important way for them to differentiate themselves from the competition.
To this end, a new Qubit benchmark examines the onsite effectiveness of each of these brands by focusing on the three main stages of the customer journey – find, choose and buy.
To do this, it uses over 80 industry best practice criteria based on both the industry specifically and general best practice for websites.
Here’s what it found out...
Summary of results
Overall the report found that Europcar delivered the best user experience, averaging a total of 73% across the first half of the benchmark.
Thrifty came in last place, averaging only 41% and scoring as low as 11% and 18% in two sections.
The user journey begins with the ‘Find’ section, where customers start looking for products and are first presented with a website.
The report assessed the visual appeal of each website, including things like the layout, navigation, accessibility of help icons, and whether they manage to establish credibility.
Europcar topped the leaderboard at 84%, followed by Hertz at 74% and National Car Hire at 68%. Thrifty was the least effective retailer assessed, scoring 47%, because it lacked features such as a search function or a hints and tips section.
Thrifty lost points as it had a poor call-to-action on the homepage and didn’t offer any form of help or hints section to users.
The sites that achieved high scores had well-designed CTAs, clear headings and intuitive, user-friendly navigation. Europcar was the only retailer that ensured the search function it used was easy to see and attractive for users.
This stage of the report focuses on the search elements of each website. It is highly important that search functions are made user friendly on websites to prevent people becoming frustrated and potentially leaving the site.
Though only Europcar provided a search function, every website did provide filter functions on the products they listed. Similarly, every retailer ensured that the results page was uncluttered and clean, making it easy to understand.
Thrifty again lost points in this section as its product descriptions were quite brief and it didn’t include any customer reviews. Also, Thrifty let itself down in terms of cross sells and alternatives suggested to the user, with every other website employing this effectively to aid customers.
Alamo provided relevant and appropriate cross sells to the user
The final section examines how each website dealt with transactions, with Europcar achieving the highest score of 86%.
For this stage of the journey, websites can benefit from elements such as clear formatting of the summary page and the quality of information given to the customer. Ensuring the price is clear and easy to understand is also important, as well as quarantining the checkout to prevent distractions.
Every retailer assessed had a well-formatted summary page, ensuring that the information given and the total price was easy to understand. Only two retailers (Alamo and National Car Hire) of the six included in this benchmark included additional charges on the summary page.
Europcar had a simple and clean summary page
We’ve long been advocates of offering a guest checkout at Econsultancy as it can drastically reduce the number of abandoned purchases. Unfortunately only Europcar offered a guest checkout option, with the others all forcing customers to register.
Europcar was also the only retailer that checked the form in real time, while Thrifty was the only site that used a postcode lookup tool. Overall, the information displayed on the registration pages was kept to a minimum by all retailers, making the page easy to understand.
Finally, all of the retailers scored points for quarantining the checkout, and Thrifty was the only brand that failed to display a progress bar and a third-party security seal.
Alamo provided clear headings in their checkout process for users