Why people won’t buy cars online

A quick look at the used car industry in the past decade will tell you that there haven’t been many radical technological changes in the ways transactions happen in this market. Apart from a % of transactions moving online and few management and marketing tools being introduced for dealerships, there hasn’t been much change in the way decisions are made for buying/selling a used car.

With the internet becoming the primary channel for leads, information asymmetry between the seller and the buyer has become a rising concern for web portals selling these cars. The question that we must ask ourselves is, that despite being comfortable doing majority of our daily purchases online, what’s stopping us from purchasing a car in a few website visits/app sessions?

Let’s first take a quick look at how technology supporting the used car ecosystem has evolved overtime.

● First we had classifieds portals opening up and big dealerships going online
● Then came dealership management systems to make overall management easier
● We had car inspection providers come up, to allow these platforms to offer more information for customers
● Very recently we saw analytics platform and competitive intelligence platforms coming in to offer insights on what’s the right way to go

The general, albeit reluctantly accepted, trend has been to offer more and more information to the customer. But, are we giving them enough information, are we being transparent enough that we enable the customer to make his/her decision on the spot? I believe that if we were doing a good job here, then low customer trust wouldn’t be one of our biggest problems.

Coming back to the question at hand, why don’t people complete the purchase faster? The answer is simple- car sellers lie. When we sell our old cars, we want to make as much money as we can from it. Nothing wrong with that, but this often leads to people hiding critical information about the car. This, in fact, is one of the biggest reasons behind the success of platforms such as Carfax and Autocheck. They’ll expose a vehicle’s entire history to you and provide you with that extra bit of comfort.

This leads me to my next question- is the information provided by Carfax and Autocheck enough?

If it were, why do they recommend that you get a mechanic to check the car out thoroughly? That’s because these platforms, while being excellent sources of a car’s history, cannot tell you how the car is doing right now. And objectively speaking, the car’s current health & performance should be all that matter for a prospective buyer.

But with cars becoming smarter and more complex, the skillset of car mechanics has expanded, and so has the technology needed to inspect cars. Earlier, a 10 minutes’ inspection and a 5 minutes’ test drive were enough for a buyer to put a price on the car. But with advancements in underlying technology that makes cars run, we perhaps need more sophisticated, yet faster ways of assessing a car.

That’s what we are doing at CaRPM. Helping used car buyers and dealers get a snapshot of a car’s health in a 2 minute inspection. With the help of our OBD dongle and self-serve mobile application, we’ll tell you about the engine problems it has currently, what problems can you expect to occur and also notify you of the engine parts that need to be replaced. You get all this data in a nice PDF that can be shared with your customers as well!

What if you want to do a full inspection instead of just inspecting the engine? With our full 360º inspection application, we enable our partners to do a bumper to bumper inspection in 20 minutes. This includes photos, exterior checks, OBD based engine and electricals check and much more!

If you think that it’s high time you adopted a faster and comprehensive inspection technology, drop us a line at fix@carpm.in or just comment below, I’ll get back to you at the earliest.

Do let me know what you think in the comments below. 🙂