With 3.8 million visitors, can auto portal CarTrade really push sales?Preethi Chamikutty
Reports on the Indian auto industry predict negative growth for the sector in 2014, but with claims of 3.8 million monthly visitors, CarTrade.com seems to be having a very busy time.
After eight years of corporate life, when Vinay Sanghi caught the startup bug, his choice was not too different from what he did in his previous job as the ex-CEO of Mahindra First Choice Wheels. He started CarTrade.com in 2009 – an auto classifieds website to connect consumers and dealers. Besides his corporate stint, Vinay's family also has a background in automobile dealership and that helped him get a well-rounded perspective of the market.Vinay says they are already getting over 3.8 million unique visitors on the site each month and are well on their way to become a leading auto portal in the country. “Our long term goal is to create the number one website that will help consumers buy and sell cars with confidence,” says Vinay ambitiously.
CarTrade.com competes with Gaadi.com and Carwaale.com which also bring car information to the finger tips of people interested in automobiles. Launched in April 2012, the site has information on 30,000+ used cars and has tied up with over 20 franchise stores across the country. While they provide information on both used cars and new cars, Vinay places his bet on the used cars space which he says will double in the next five years.
To position itself differently, CarTrade.com offers its customers a condition report on the cars listed on the site, free 100 days warranty and free road side assistance on certain cars. CarTrade works with over 1000 dealers and 70 corporates to get special deals for its customers.
Though it is just 18 months old, CarTrade has a huge team of 254 employees which includes on ground staff acting as the interface between dealers and customers. The startup’s head office is based in Mumbai, but has operations across India. They have branches in Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune, Chennai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Nagpur, Indore, Coimbatore, Jaipur, Hubli, Ludhiana, Guwahati and Patna at this point.
CarTrade is backed by investments from Canaan Partners, Epiphany Ventures and Tiger Global, and Vinay says they have plans to use a blend of mass media and digital media to target customers. The current crop of customers coming on site are mostly men in the age group of 24-40 years, who are internet savvy and use the medium for research and purchase.
Amidst all the ambition of growth, CarTrade admits to be struggling to change the traditional mindsets of car dealers on using technology. “That remains our biggest challenge and we are finding ways to help them overcome their apprehension,” admits Vinay.