Online classifieds platforms in South Africa are increasingly merging the worlds of private and dealership car sales.
Nunben Dixon, Head of Gumtree Automotive Operations, says that auto sales sites like Gumtree initially were dominated by informal, second-hand, privately-owned vehicle sales but, in the last four years, both big and small dealerships have learnt how to use the online classifieds space really effectively: “The major automotive groups came on board as soon as we launched the Gumtree professional dealer dashboard in 2014, and the many smaller, independent dealerships are now joining in”.
Dixon believes the car buyer is the real winner in all of this: “Online sites are now one-stop spaces covering every option and the dealership inventory has expanded both choice and the availability of benefits like financing, maintenance plans and warranties. Dealerships are also governed by the Consumer Protection Act while consumer-to-consumer sales are not.”
He says the benefits for the dealers are clear: “They’re reaching a wider market, are able to be flexible and competitive in their pricing, can interact immediately with prospects and, if they have a network, can move stock around to meet availability”.
Dixon also welcomes the strategic input that dealerships have brought to the classifieds industry: “They are the experts when it comes to sales and customer service, while we have the necessary technology and foot traffic. When knowledge is shared and input implemented, everyone benefits.”
He believes this market integration will only grow because the traditional model of interaction with a dealership is appealing to fewer people: “It’s too time-consuming to physically shop around and consumers increasingly prefer to self-educate and to receive instant and comprehensive information. But they do still want the bedrock services and peace of mind that a dealership can provide. That’s why a partnership between dealerships and classifieds is, more and more, the way to go.”