The dawn of the digital world gave way to websites whose sole purpose encroaches on at least one element of selling cars once traditionally handled exclusively within a dealership’s four walls.
Customers can now click or tap their way through inventory sourcing sites, secure vehicle financing, decide on aftermarket add-ons, find out invoice prices and even haggle over a final sale price all from the anonymity of the Internet abyss.
Now, one more Canadian-based website is seeking to pull yet another element – building a car and communicating with the salesperson – from the show floor into the World Wide Web.
The site is called Carmigo. It is a standalone entity from the team behind E-Dealer. After beta testing in the Ottawa market for over half a year, Carmigo grew to include used-vehicle listings on Mar. 19 and looks to spread further across the country as its apps become available for download through Apple and Android.
Where it differs from sites like Unhaggle.com, NewCarSellOff.com and America’s TrueCar rests, according to company V-P Shane Hambly, with Carmigo’s ability to facilitate and host communication.
“There is no platform that currently allows consumers to build out vehicles and begin chatting with salespeople in real time,” he says. “This car shopping platform allows buyers to connect with multiple salespeople at multiple dealerships and have real-time communication. It’s a matter of convenience.”
The site is easily to navigate. Simply sign up – it’s free for customers and dealers – and chose which side of the deal you are on.
Shoppers can build a car from drop down menus offering make, model, engine type, transmission, colour and more. Auto Data Chrome provides all the listing information. All prices are manufacturers’ MSRPs.
That info is then sent to a dealership or dealerships of their choosing or, by default, the ones located closest. Salespeople at those competing dealerships then reach out in real-time on the Carmigo platform to win the sale.
Hambly says the customer is in control of the car buying process without receiving emails and phone calls or even stepping foot in the store.
For dealers, the site means valuable new vehicle leads for free and a chance to communicate with consumers in real-time who are close to pulling the trigger on a purchase.
“With the traditional lead generation site or model, a lead is produced and it is pushed to the dealer either via email, through the DMS or sent to a salesperson. Communication will take place either via email, over the phone or not at all. It’s a broken system,” he says.
“When you think of technology and how we communicate now, particularly on mobile, we are chatting through profiles. Think of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and text messaging. That’s how Carmigo works.”
Salespeople are encouraged to set up profiles, as are stores. The company reports positive early results with over 1,000 salespeople signed up as of mid-March. Hambly reveals they are hoping to have over 5,000 sales staff profiles online by this fall.
“The big thing about building a profile, and we have seen it with the salespeople who have signed up, is that they are treating it like their Facebook page. There is information about them, the store, things they like, a photo of themselves and more. In the future we will include actual reviews, too.”
Revenue for the site is generated through advertising as opposed to membership fees or a pay-per-lead system. They report an “extremely long” time on site rating with consumers spending anywhere from a few minutes up to an hour navigating and interacting.
Recently added inventory feeds for used cars means there are upwards of 40,000 used-vehicles posted online now. He reports the goal is to boost that to 200,000 vehicles in the months to come.
“Think about it from a salesperson’s standpoint: they are getting access to a customer who has decided they want to buy a car, have picked out everything they want and are ready to communicate with dealers. It gives control of the process to the consumer who is mobile-engaged and using a device – phone, computer or tablet - that they already use for everything else.”