PREVENT CAR-BUYING HEADACHES: Head of Gumtree Automotive, Jeff Osborne, advises potential car-buyers in SA to research potential vehicles and perform the necessary due diligence. Image: Gumtree
The online car-buying process is safer, easier and faster than ever due to the participation of thousands of professional dealerships, sellers and brokers in the classifieds industry, says head of Gumtree Automotive, Jeff Osborne.
Osborne says: “Buyers have always enjoyed the convenience of buying a car privately. The pricing is competitive, there is plenty of variety and it’s easy to browse through the stock and interact with a seller.
“The formal car trade has cottoned on to these benefits and are now participating in a major way, mimicking the ease and convenience of a private sale but also offering benefits such as service plans, financing and warranties to prospective car buyers.”
Osborne says that more than 2000 professional sellers, including over 900 dealerships, are using Gumtree to move stock and improve their online presence.
Osborne said: “All of the major South African automotive groups are well-represented on our site.”
Although dealer staff have been using Gumtree for many years, says Osborne, the launch of Gumtree’s professional automotive inventory tool has both formalised and streamlined dealer involvement. This ad dashboard allows dealers to view in-depth analytics, manage their stock and replies, and make bulk changes to ads with the click of a button.
Osborne said: “Since the introduction of the Gumtree Automotive Inventory Tool in 2014, thousands of professional sellers, including dealerships and brokers, have been logging their inventory on the site.
“The experience on Gumtree for the professional seller is already top-of-the-line as they can manage their stock, view real-time reports and monitor lead management. They are also able to use graphic overlays to add to their existing brand presence.”
Osborne says that the second stage of development has focused on improving the experience for car buyers.
He said: “We want cars to be as easy to find as possible, particularly seeing as we have such high volumes of stock being uploaded. Online price-checking tools help ease a buyer’s decision.
“We’ve introduced a “sort by price” feature for users, as well as mechanisms for quick replies so that users can respond to numerous sellers in seconds. In addition, we have customer service agents working around the clock to monitor the vertical and ensure that our customers have the best possible experience.”
The move to a “sort by price” model, rather than the date uploaded, has been requested by buyers and sellers alike, says Osborne. “We believe this will make it easier to find exactly what you are looking for, in the price range desired.”
The site also took the decision to monetize the autos section in order to reduce spam and unwanted adverts. “The result has been a dedicated automotive section that is cleaner, sleeker and faster than ever before.”
Osborne also believes the presence of professional dealerships will continue to drive new shoppers to the classifieds portal.
He said: “Car buyers can interact with sales people, browse through a great variety of stock, save searches and shop with an app the same way they would in any other category on Gumtree, but the difference is that there is a professional dealership at the other end of the transaction, offering all of the benefits of the formal trade and all of the convenience of a classified.”
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Osborne urges buyers to perform the necessary due diligence when buying from a private seller: “Doing your homework, particularly in establishing ownership, can prevent a lot of headaches as well as liability in terms of incomplete settlements. Always obtain a statement from the bank or a copy of the title deed before transferring any monies.”
Osborne says that the presence of dealers on the site has added immense value to the site for car buyers: “Private deals remain popular, but rarely offer service plans and financing, which dealerships do.
“Gumtree has always been associated with good deals and value for money, and dealerships are staying true to that in terms of the inventory they are uploading. You can find amazing deals and specials on the site, from both dealerships and private sellers.”
Dealerships can sign-up for Gumtree’s professional selling tool online.