Every year, U.S. consumers buy millions of cars—and that trend will continue in 2019. In fact, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), $16.8 million in sales of new light vehicles are expected in 2019. That figure doesn’t even include used vehicle sales.
If you’re among those contemplating a vehicle replacement or upgrade, you might want to consider checking out CarGurus, the largest automotive shopping website in the U.S. connecting buyers and sellers of new and used cars.
RewardExpert recently spoke with CarGurus’ Vice President of Communications, Amy Mueller, about how the company helps buyers find their best car deal and sellers reach a larger audience.
Creating Automotive Sales Transparency
Mueller said that the creation of CarGurus was sparked by a desire to provide consumers with greater transparency in the car buying process through technical innovation.
The company’s founder, Langley Steinert, who formerly co-founded TripAdvisor, “was looking for another vertical where a need for transparency was relevant,” she explained. He found that need in the automotive industry, “and that’s why he decided to launch a marketplace where consumers can search for car listings and connect with dealers.”
13 years later and CarGurus is the largest automotive shopping site in the U.S. (based on unique monthly visitors) and rapidly expanding in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain.
While it’s understandably popular with digitally savvy used car buyers, Mueller noted that visitors will find a lot of new car listings as well. “Anybody in the market for a car who is interested in finding a great deal from a highly rated dealer would be somebody interested in using our site,” she said.
Powerful Search with Valuable Insight
At its core, CarGurus serves as a marketplace to connect car buyers with car sellers—whether they be private sellers or dealers. “We also serve as a research platform,” Mueller added. “Consumers can come to our site, search for the car that they’re looking for, filter down to very specific attributes, and then very quickly compare the listings available in their marketplace.”
CarGurus uses search algorithms, data analysis and other propriety technology to rank these search results, enabling consumers to easy identify the best deal from the best rated dealer or private seller. “It considers all the basic things that drive value,” Mueller said. “Like make, model, mileage. And we take all that data and combine it with dealer reputation ratings.”
The result is a level of transparency previously unheard of in the automotive sales industry. “Most other sites aren’t answering all the questions that consumers have,” Mueller said. “Is this a good deal? Is this a dealer I can trust? How many days has this car been on the market? All that kind of information is usually hard to get at, but we are providing it to consumers.”
Greater Exposure for Sellers
Mueller said that dealers choose to list their cars on CarGurus because it offers the largest audience of car shoppers. “Dealers can put their inventory on our site for free,” she added. “Then, we offer premium advertising packages by subscription. This can get them a little bit more brand exposure but doesn’t impact the organic search listings.”
Private sellers choose CarGurus because they can also reach a larger audience. While they can list their car for free, they are obligated to pay the company $99 when it sells. “We also give them tools to help them figure out how they should price their car,” Mueller said. “That can be really helpful, particularly for sellers who are selling a car for the first time.”
Making an Informed Decision
Survey data shows that 86 percent of car buyers conduct research online before visiting a dealership, and that’s also Mueller’s first piece of advice for anyone planning to buy a new or used vehicle.
“First and foremost, always do your research,” she said. “There’s so much information available to consumers online. And sites like CarGurus organize that information to help you inform your decision. Doing that kind of research before you go into the dealership will go a long way.”
Mueller also suggested making an appointment with a dealer rather than just dropping by. “When you’ve narrowed down your purchase options, call the dealership ahead of time,” she explained. “You can then have the undivided attention of the salesperson and get what you need out of that experience without spending a lot of time.”
When asked about future developments at CarGurus, Mueller mentioned that consumers can expect the company to become increasingly visible in the marketplace. “You are probably seeing our ads on TV a lot more,” she noted. “We’ve been doing a lot more branding of the company of late.”
She also underscored the company’s mission and said that CarGurus will continue to “bring trust and transparency to the car shopping process. I think that we are delivering on that mission quite well for consumers here in the U.S.”