How Shriram Automall is serving as a platform for vehicle and equipment trading
Back in 2010, the Indian automobile industry was majorly occupied by an unorganised and opaque sector dedicated to pre-owned vehicles. The trading of every pre-owned vehicle and equipment involved huge risks. To abandon this practice, Sameer Malhotra, CEO of Shriram Automall India Limited (SAMIL), decided to form a transparent platform to empower buyers and sellers to interact, inspect, evaluate, bid, and close transactions in a timely, transparent and cost-effective manner.
Thus, 2011 saw the inception of the first Automall in Chennai, and SAMIL became India’s first-ever service provider to offer a well-organised platform for the exchange of pre-owned vehicles and equipment including commercial vehicles, passenger vehicles, two-wheelers, three-wheelers, construction equipment, and farming equipment.
Getting acquainted with vehicle bidding
With a continuous strive towards excellence and better solutions to customers; Shriram Automall has emerged as more than an auction company in the last 10 years, catering to almost 100 cities. “We started the company for serving the customers of Shriram Transport Finance Company (STFC), the largest asset financing NBFC in the country and holistic finance provider for the commercial vehicle industry, and gradually changed our course of business model, adding up more segments, industries, and customers,” says Sameer.
SAMIL initiated the first-of-its-kind concept of physical bidding of used vehicles and equipment in India. Currently, it conducts over 500 physical auctions per month at over 100 Automall across India, where buyers can have a proper understanding of the vehicle before buying. “By adding technological innovations we catered to our customer’s requirements and updated ourselves as they changed over time,” says Sameer. Now, Physical Auctions have shifted to Phygital (Physical plus Digital) format via MySamil App and Desktop Live Bidding where customers can participate from anywhere with the comfort of their workplace or home.
In 2013, SAMIL forayed into online bidding to enhance the reach of their services to customers with varied needs. They introduced online auctions with their state-of-the-art auction portal bids.samil.in. Customers can also participate in its online auctions through its cutting-edge portal www.cartadeexchange.com. The company conducts around 2,000 online auctions per month. Sameer explained this to be one of the most prominent bidding platforms in India, “that ensures customers the most convenient way to view, bid, and own pre-owned vehicles and equipment”.
Of course, the start wasn’t easy 10 years back, especially bringing people to the platform, explaining the process, and then ensuring customer satisfaction based on services. However, they succeeded as the figures indicated by the Rs. 25,000 crores of transactions happening over time with 10 million inspections and valuations occurring in the platform, and 1.7 million customers registered under various services by SAMIL.
Shriram Automall has successfully transformed several drivers and machine operators to owners while uplifting farmers in their businesses by providing unique solutions. Sameer adds, “We ensure a variety of vehicles at our Automalls, and assure the buyers in getting the optimal price while buying the used vehicles. We also allow a proper inspection of the vehicle along with the cleared paperwork to ensure a smooth process of trading.”
SAMIL has also increased the value of national assets by its better utilisation, by forming the complete ecosystem for vehicles and equipment starting from parking, valuation, refurbishment, disposal, and documentation. It has emerged as a family of seven different brands which provide unique and diverse solutions under a single roof. SAMIL conducts more than 2,500 monthly bidding events through its structured physical and digital platforms. The company also provides online vehicle transaction services through CarTradeExchange and bids.samil.in and vehicle inspection facility through its subsidiary Adroit Inspection Services Pvt Ltd, innovative car buying and selling experience through BlueJack and industrial auction of properties, plant and machinery, commodities and scrap, salvage & surplus assets through 123done.in. This year, it has also introduced two new brands - The PriceX and Veriisure to meet the diverse requirements of customers.
Making customers feel connected with a .in domain
The decision of acquiring www.samil.in was easy as they wanted to focus on a business strictly meant for the Indian audiences and users. “We were sure that our unique and innovative business model would strike the right chord with clients and customers as we solve their pain point with confidence. Thus, we introduced more localized and customized solutions for our not-so tech-savvy customers,” says Sameer.
However, he feels that in the 21st century, neither website nor social media should be overlooked or neglected while formulating a business strategy. Still, the .in domain extension highlights that SAMIL is an Indian company, making the customers feel connected to the services with the reminder that they are meant exclusively for the Indian audiences.
The National Internet Exchange for India (NIXI) is helping many businesses across the country to get a .in or .Bharat domain. Enterprises irrespective of their scale and size can avail a .in domain with the help of NIXI. It is affordable and can be availed in more than 22 languages for businesses coming from all regions of the country.
Market and revenue
Currently, around 8,00,000 used vehicles and equipment per year get registered under the platform for re-selling, while calculating the number of around 20,000 registered buyers every month. Summing up the annual Gross Auction Proceeds (GAP) of Rs.3,000 Cr approx. for the financial year 2020-21, Sameer discloses that over 30 percent conversions are generated to sales every month, keeping their success rate intact.
Even with rapid expansions, Sameer still feels that the market is unorganised, thereby creating a major scope for their growth in various cities, segments, and roping in customers with different choices and needs. “Innovation is the key, along with proper employment. We aim to provide the right solutions for our customers to make them loyal for life. The sky's the limit and there is room for infinite possibilities to flourish,” he concludes.
The ‘Shaping India Inc's Online Growth’ series chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how creating an online presence on the .in or .Bharat domain powered their success stories.