A global automotive marketplace strategy


A global automotive marketplace strategy


Pollen partnered with an industry-leading marketplace client in helping to define what the future car buying experience should be across their global two-sided classifieds marketplaces.

Leveraging insights from marketplace trends, expertise and knowledge from dealer networks, and used car buyers and sellers, we provided strategic guidance on platform strategy, product vision, and a clear action plan.

Insights and trends vary across global markets, but some themes remain consistent. We looked at the future of the car-buying journey through these lenses:

  • Increase trust to transform consumer behaviour
  • Transparency shifting the power dynamic
  • Over-delivering on value to shift consumer behaviour
  • New market entrants and the pandemic impact

Increase trust to transform consumer behaviour

Reassurance is core to the proposition when buying a used vehicle, especially online. While there is a familiarity with the buying process and what it entails (even for a first purchase), scepticism, mistrust, and anxiety is embedded in the buyer's mindset. Trust in the listing is paramount for a buyer to buy sight unseen, from high-quality photos, video walkthroughs, inspection, and history reports to dealer messaging, test drives, digital contracts, large secure payments, warranties, and returns. Trust indicators across the buying journey increase buyer confidence in the seller and the goods purchased.


Transparency shifting the power dynamic

With an abundance of information about a vehicle's worth, condition, and reliability available online, the power dynamic in the purchase is shifting in favour of the buyer - and dealers are no longer in total control. They recognise transparency is fundamental to ensuring sales, and it’s something customers have come to expect through video media, quality imagery, and condition reports, providing confidence in the purchase and resulting in early sales funnel validation. With more qualified customers through transparency and a shorter time to close, dealers can generate more sales and, ultimately, revenue via increased volumes and lower overheads.


Over-delivering on value to shift consumer behaviour

When presented with unconditional assurances, buyers are open to, and in some cases, relieved by the prospect of the conveniences a fully digital buying experience would bring. Where negative sentiment exists, platforms must overreach and deliver value to reshape consumer behaviour. Applying a sound strategy is critical to driving long-term change.

New market entrants and the pandemic impact

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marketplaces raced to deliver sophisticated product upgrades and digitise their services.

Over the past few years, the used car marketplace saw a surge of market entrants and innovative digital players. Beepi was one of the first, supported by huge valuations, and followed up quickly by Carvana and Car Gurus. It's a hugely competitive market, and success isn't guaranteed, especially in the face of the forecasted economic downtown. Carvana has been a casualty, with its stock crushed by almost 100% in 2022. Other factors that contributed were a lack of advanced workforce planning, inventory shifts, and an economy that's still emerging from the impacts of our post-pandemic world.

These brands went hard on trust and transparency, but lacked the abundance of established two-sided marketplace players that included dealer networks.


Defining a platform strategy

Looking across local and global market trends, we helped define the platform strategy that would enable and unlock these themes. The outcome was key strategic recommendations of what the used car marketplace of the future needed to be, how to diffuse competitors and ways to differentiate and innovate around how people buy cars online.