Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Auto sales platform to add chatbot, AI, online-to-offline events

Jan 07. 2018
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By Asina Pornwasin 
The Nation

AUTOMOTIVE marketplace iCarAsia.com is aiming for improved 2018 growth in traffic, leads and revenue compared to 2017 as it introduces to its platform innovative new tools and features to enhance the quality of services and increase business performance.

It will include use of artificial intelligence (AI), a chatbot, a big data platform, a new Car Platform, and a business-to-business (B2B) platform for the Thai market. 

IcarAsia.com’s country manager for Thailand, Pornladda Dathratwibul, said the company has set a goal to be first in quality, “the largest and most trusted online automotive marketplace” by strengthening existing services and products, as well as launch new products and activity including a  new care product and chatbot. And it will host regional online to offline (O2O) events.

The company has forseen and prepared for several trends that will hit the digital automotive ecosystem in 2018 and play a bigger role in the customer’s buying journey and in video content. They include augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and AI. IcarAsia.com will in the automotive eco system in digital world included augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and AI.

“Our role is to provide the online research for people who want to buy a car, from providing content [autospinn.com] to the purchase decision [one2car.com], to cover the ecosystem and bring it together in one place. We have partnerships with dealers – both new and used cars – to strengthen that ecosystem, reduce field sales and further utilise online channels,” said Pornladda.

There is still high competition with newcomers domestically and internationally, he said. Consumers are already jumping to online, they are there, and so all players will go there, too.

“The challenge in 2018 is that the behaviour of upcountry consumers and dealers will still be a challenge, with car buying and selling still relying on relationship and referral. They have started to adopt online shopping, but still far less compared to greater Bangkok. Car brands [OEMs] and advertising spending is still quite huge in traditional media. They are already spending online, but the ration is still high in traditional media. World-class players in social media and e-commerce will invest to grab automotive marketplace sharing.”

Because the new-car marketplace is still very new for Thailand, “we have to work really hard to kick- start this in the consumers’ mind,” said Pornladda. “We’re helping to develop this new channel, platform and service. And what happens is that consumer and dealer behaviour shifts and they adapt to it. All our services are based on helping consumers and dealers have an easier and more convenient way to buy and sell cars.”

In the Thailand market (One2car.com), the company has experienced a 35 per cent increase in leads. “It shows that consumers have shifted more to digital,” said Pornladda. They have experienced 35 per cent growth in car listings, 50 percent growth in listing by private sellers, and a monthly car rotation averaging 15,000 vehicles – reflecting up to 500 cars selling daily through the platform (assuming the rotation reflects the sale of a vehicle).

“Our dealers are using our in-depth product more than ever this year,” he said. “This shows that online is a key channel for them to sell cars.”

According to a consumer search on the platform, people’s top vehicle preferences – for buying and selling – are SUVs, economy to mid-range sedans, and European cars.

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