3rd June 2008: Car buying on the internet is now serious business. Rachit Vats logs in to find out.
Online car portals catering to an Indian audience have been mushrooming for a while now. With almost 10 existing players, they allow users to click, compare, and choose, before making a car-related transaction. Some (Carwale.com) even allows users to make online transactions and buy or sell a car.
Carazoo.com, a division of Logix Microsystems Ltd, started in August 2007, claims to tap three million page views per day. Rising incomes, growing number of car buyers, more car launches, and the opening up of the broadband, mean good times for car portals. Explains Pankaj Patel, vice–president – India. Logix Microsystems: “The burgeoning auto industry and the opening up of the broadband will help online car (or auto) portals grow by leaps and bounds. Since our launch, we have grown from 5,000 visitors a month to 1.5 lakh a month. From 200 registered users to 10,000 users. From 10,000 impressions to three million page views per day. This shows us that we are doing something right. The driving factor for this success is a mixture of the content, promotional schemes and the other features.”
Clearly, the portal has posted handsome growth thanks to diligent car buyers and lovers, who are otherwise short of time. Not just this, there is another kind of user as well. A number of car dealers make it mandatory for their sales personnel to use the portal as a reference source.
According to C S Harish, director, Sagar Automobiles, Bangalore, today?s customer is highly demanding and expects accurate and up-to-date information. Any misinformation or unanswered enquiries by the sales executive will drive the customer immediately to the competitors.
Harish says, “In order to address this problem and to keep pace with the high–tech city image of Bangalore, we at Sagar Automobiles have now built a virtual showroom on the net for prospective buyers of Maruti Suzuki cars. Buyers can now, along with their family members compare, research, and feel the car from the comfort of their home. Bangaloreans can even schedule a test drive and take service appointments on the internet. In the coming months, we will enable our customers to see the progress of repairs on their cars via the internet.”
Mohit Dubey, chief executive officer, Carwale.com, feels it is too early to segment the market, but given the interest levels and the growth, more players will certainly join. He says, “We have witnessed 400-500 percent growth in the last year. There are close to 50,000 users accessing our website on a daily basis. To top it Carwale.com conducts at least 20-25 percent of the used car business in India.”
That online research also converts into dealer visits is a sign of things to come.
Interview of Mr. Pankaj Patel, Carazoo.com
What is the profile of the typical online consumer?
The user who logs on to our portals (or related ones) is basically interested in conducting research that will eventually assist him/her in making a buying/selling decision. Aged between 22-38, they log on mainly to research on cars and also get drawn to the various other features and services provided. For instance, test drives, discounted finance, and others.
What is Carazoo.com's USP?
Carazoo.com is the first portal to provide the benefit of interactive animation to consumers. This means a user can take a car, spin it around, paint it, compare it, read the review, download car brochures and even order a test drive -- all online.
The test drive is arranged through a dealer. Besides, we offer special finance deals for customers who buy cars through our websites. These features draw consumers to our website and eventually lead them to the car showroom.