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Cars.com supports on-the-lot research with new app features

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September 1, 2016

Cars.com's app unveils new features

Cars.com’s app unveils new features

Cars.com is bridging online and real-world car research with new features for its mobile application designed to ease the stress of car purchasing for the back-to-school season.

The automotive classifieds site is gearing up for the Labor Day weekend by enhancing its app’s research capabilities, letting customers compare prices and scan and save cars they like so they can be easily found again. The new features point to the continued growth of mobile as an integral part of the shopping experience.

“It is no secret consumers are using their mobile devices during car shopping, but they are increasingly using mobile to research and shop on the dealership lot,” said Chhaya Dave, senior director of product at Cars.com. “Our goal is to provide relevant and useful tools and information to help car shoppers find a trusted dealership in their area, compare vehicles, estimate cost, read reviews and ultimately make real-time purchase decisions.”

On-site research
Labor Day weekend is one of the biggest car shopping times of the year. To prepare, Cars.com has added two new features to its mobile app.

The first is on-the-lot vehicle identification number scanning. A car’s VIN is a unique code given to every vehicle that allows it to be identified by make, model, year and origin.

Users of Cars.com’s app can scan vehicles on the lot and get further information about it, compare prices to the same vehicle from other dealers and save the vehicle as a favorite on the app so they can easily find it later.

The second new feature is price-drop alerts. This allows users to mark any desired vehicle on the app and then receive push notifications whenever a dealer with that vehicle lowers the price.


Users can add a car to favorites by tapping the heart

The ubiquity of mobile means that more and more shoppers are using their devices to research items before and during the shopping trip. Cars are expensive and require a lot more research than smaller items comparatively.

With these new features, Cars.com is expanding the ability for its customers to view the entire field of automotive purchasing before they commit to the car they want.

“Today more than half of Cars.com’s traffic comes in from a mobile device,” Ms. Dave said. “As a result, we believe in a mobile-first philosophy.

“This means we focus on building the right experience for consumers on their phone at the moment they’re using their phone – no matter what stage of the car shopping process they’re in.”

The mobile-auto connection
Cars.com launched its app six years ago in 2010 and it sees about seven million visits per month. Those numbers show a clear benefit to investing in a mobile presence.

“Mobile has changed the game for the automotive business,” Ms. Dave said. “Today, car shoppers continue researching vehicles and dealerships up until the moment of purchase right from the dealership lot.

“It is similar to showrooming behavior in the retail space. Consumers do the bulk of their research at home and come to the dealership prepared with a general idea of what they want and how much they want to spend, but they continue to validate their decisions because they have access to so much information at their fingertips.”

Cars.com is not the only company that has tried to make the world of automotive shopping easier to navigate for consumers.


The favorited cars are saved for later.

Amazon has also tried to disrupt the automotive sector, as it has done in others, by introducing its own mobile-optimized marketplace for all things automotive (see story).

Car buyers are also fertile ground for mobile advertising, as shown by Edmunds.com, which recently debuted an ad solution that connects car dealers with in-market shoppers (see story).

“As a result of this shift in consumer behavior, auto advertisers have been forced to adjust how they reach and influence car shoppers – now with a greater emphasis on targeted digital marketing tactics,” Ms. Dave said.

“Auto retailers should look at innovative ways to engage with well-informed consumers on the lot and pay closer attention to the metrics that matter to know what’s working.”

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Danny Parisi is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach him at danny@napean.com.

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