I am a mobile shopper from the Xennial age – that microgeneration born between 1977 and 1983. I use my mobile phone to shop for everything from coffee to cars. You win my business with transparent pricing, great photos of your product, and an app that makes purchasing from you a convenient experience. So I am pleased that Cars.com has enriched our site with tools that make price comparison among vehicles more transparent and useful. We’re making automotive shopping reflect the kind of transparency that consumers like me expect in the digital age.
For dealerships to succeed with mobile shoppers like me, they need to make vehicle research as natural and easy as businesses such as Uber and Instacart do. For example, I check Uber and Lyft daily to see who will get me from my home to work in the most cost-efficient manner. The cost of my ride is never a surprise. Their apps allow me to see the price I will pay before I order the ride.
While in my ride share to work, I access my Starbucks app and see exactly how much my morning brew will cost, and I pre-order it to be ready when I arrive to avoid standing in line. On my commute home from work, I order a few needed household items on Instacart. Not only can I see exactly how much each item plus delivery will cost, but my previous orders are there to provide immediate context about past purchases. If I am patient enough to wait a day or two, I go through the same process on Amazon. The price transparency these services provide make my shopping a breeze and allows me to make quick, confident purchases every single day.
This kind of price transparency and ease of purchase raises my expectations for when I need to make major life decisions such as buying a home or vehicle. Nearly five years ago, my husband and I decided we would begin looking for a condo to buy. Needless to say, price was at the forefront of our minds with that decision as well. We used Redfin and Zillow and literally bought the first condo we walked thru. It was the biggest purchase of our life, and thankfully we could find all the information we needed online to be confident that the neighborhood was safe and the price was fair.
Last year, we decided to buy an SUV to handle our steep driveway. We used Cars.com research pages to understand the different trim levels. Once we narrowed down our search, the photos and seller notes helped us decide on the right car to buy. We read reviews to find the dealer we wanted to do business with. We had almost everything we needed, but one important element was missing: a better understanding of whether the price of a vehicle was fair. The experience demonstrated to me personally just how important price contextualization is in the final purchase decision.
I am proud to say that Cars.com has taken steps to get better. We’ve added a comprehensive set of price comparison tools to Cars.com dealerships’ vehicle detail pages (VDPs) to provide the transparency needed for consumers to feel confident and ready to buy when walking into the dealership. Consumers can quickly and efficiently see the competitive set with a clickable graph that highlights the key differences between each car. Cars.com recently tested badges (visual icons) that distinguish if a price is fair, good, or great. The addition of these new tools is a win for our dealer partners. Not only can dealers close more deals by being transparent, but you can more effectively inform consumers on how different features and options affect the price point.
Cars.com is doing more than publishing prices. We’re helping dealers educate consumers on why and how vehicles are priced the way they are. I am excited about what we are doing today and what we have planned for the future to continue being the growth partner to automotive dealers.