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Why Malaysian used car platform Carsome is going offline to open an experience centre

Malaysia's Carsome is hoping to streamline the car buying experience in APAC

Buying or selling a used car has been hard work for a long time. But Malaysia's Carsome thinks it has the answer to a smooth car-buying journey.

Buying and selling a car knows it’s a process filled with potholes. Price transparency, a reliance on middlemen and the hassle of paperwork are all problems to be swerved for those after, or trying to to offload, a used motor. And in APAC, the used car market is highly fragmented, dominated by dealerships and dogegd by distrust.

Enter Malaysia-based Carsome. The company wants to solve some of the used car industry’s biggest pain points, explains Eric Cheng, co-founder and group chief executive officer.

He claims that more than 40,000 cars change hands annually through Carsome, totalling more than US$600 million in transacted value. On average, one car is sold through Carsome's platform every 10 minutes.

The Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged the platform to attempt to reshape and elevate the used car buying experience by introducing a transparent, digital-first process.

“When it comes to buying used cars, the same issues persist: inconsistent and non-transparent prices, and mismatches in car condition or quality. Our Car Purchase Preference Survey showed that 70% of car buyers want detailed information on car condition; 60% appreciate an extended warranty, and 40% value test drive experience and a money-back guarantee,” Cheng tells The Drum.

“When the Covid-19 lockdown measures took place in the countries where we operate, all business activities were halted. There were no transactions, because we could not perform vehicle ownership transfers.”

He continues: “As such, during the period, we focused on accelerating our tech and product development, as well as enhancing our supply chain capabilities by upskilling our workforce so that we could be the first out of the gate post-lockdown. I am glad that the collective effort has resulted in a V-shaped recovery of our business in July.”

Since Covid-19 lockdown measures across Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore eased, Cheng says business has been bounced back. Carsome’s used car transactions in June 2020 were 300% higher than May 2020, and up over 70% compared to June 2019.

After lockdown, Carsome is introducing ’The New Way of Buying Cars’. A new car-buying process for consumers that starts with online browsing with detailed information and booking of test drives, all done online, and ends up at its own retail destinations.

Actual test drives will take place at a Carsome Experience Center, where, upon purchase confirmation, Carsome will manage the entire process for customers, ensuring a seamless and convenient online-to-offline experience.

The platform will also provide partners with a new customer acquisition channel, enabling them to rely on Carsome’s marketing efforts and market data to sell their inventories faster.

“We have developed the largest supply of used cars, comprehensive car inspection and grading standards as well as sophisticated data intelligence to anticipate market demands,” he notes. “This puts us in a position to now offer a new service to consumers.“

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