Online shopping is now the new retail normal. If it’s possible, consumers would want to be able to buy everything online due to the sheer convenience of e-commerce platforms. Yet, while it’s now commonplace for people to show for clothes, accessories, gadgets, food, holiday packages and mobility subscriptions, buying cars online remains a very risky proposition, especially used ones.
But buying cars online is nothing new; online listing platforms and auction sites have been around for ages. However, unlike the gamut of FMCG goods typically sold through online channels, a car is a much larger and longer-term investment. In Thailand, you could even call it a necessity, as public transport linkages aren’t exactly what you’d call comprehensive (yet), even for people living in Bangkok’s suburbs.
A greater element of trust would guide the decision of second-hand car shoppers online, and here’s how dealers looking to tap into the lucrative online market can build it.
Thailand’s used car market is expanding – but there’s still mistrust
According to Ipsos, the number of passenger vehicles that will be out of warranty will go beyond 14 million units by next year. Of this, five million units will be aged between three to eight years. This – coupled with lower prices and an expanding middle-class – has been propelling the 5.5 percent growth of used car sales till 2020.
For consumers, there are many benefits of going the second-hand route. They’re typically at least 50 percent cheaper compared to new models, helps the user guard against greater deprecation and allows them lower customization costs. At a greater societal level, buying used helps (at least to a negligible degree) reduce the on-the-road car population; leaving one less vehicle that would contribute to traffic gridlocks and environmental pollution.
Yet, despite these pros, the cons for many consumers have been the prevalence of shady used car salesmen and their car tents. Some of the more common issues faced by buyers when looking at used cars online are that the cars don’t match what they look like in the listing (dealers often play around with the car’s exact year and would admit to that just because other dealers are doing it), prices are higher than what was listed, the car has obvious issues that the dealer would underplay and that the owner of the car doesn’t even have a valid title.
In worse case scenarios, the car tent may be selling stolen, modified cars or a part of a scamming racket. Of course, with any purchase, caveat emptor needs to be applied. However, in an age where people want to purchase things as quickly as they can to gain more immediate gratification, many people would prefer to invest a lot more to buy a new car.
Going online with trustworthiness
Unfortunately, many unscrupulous car tents have been using online channels to draw unwitting customers to their dealerships. Yet, it’s highly unfair to the used car industry as a whole to get a bad rep because of these bas eggs. For those who want to make an honest buck and tap into the online community – which will be necessary as most commerce will go online – here are a couple of things that you can do:
1. Get certified by manufacturers
With certification, used car buyers will be more assured of landing a bargain but also getting a quality, thoroughly inspected car. Two of the most popular brands in Thailand – Toyota and Honda – have programs where they sell pre-owned vehicles themselves or with a network of certified dealers.
At the more premium end of the speused carctrum, Mercedes-Benz also has a certification program. What these programs allow for is that if you have a second-hand car that fits the requirement, it would give you an option to unload your inventory.
2. Build your reputation through testimonials
In an online shopping environment that’s getting more saturated by the day, one major differentiating factor for sellers is testimonials. This is one metric that the most successful vendors are using on top e-commerce platforms and used car dealers can take a leaf out of this.
This is why it’s best if cars are listed on reputed online platforms (whether they are listing websites or auction sites) as they would typically provide a function where people can leave their testimonials. Even better is if that particular website also has a program to certify the dealer, which would further add to the element of trustworthiness.
Being a responsible online used car dealer Thailand’s car production has been increasing and could potentially add a lot more on the road, and with it, greater congestion and larger carbon footprints. While a car is indeed still a
necessity for many, they don’t need to buy new ones if the second-hand market can clean up its act.
By going online, used car dealers have the potential to reach a larger and more diverse range of consumers. However, if they want to tap into this opportunity, they also need to single themselves out for being a dealer that shoppers can trust.