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Edmunds.com connects car shoppers with dealers via text messagingBy
Car-shopping site Edmunds.com has acquired CarCode to boost its mobile strategy by enabling users to interact one-on-one with car dealers via text messaging.
The CarCode texting service will be deployed nationwide across the Edmunds network of dealers and will be free to use for dealers and for consumers. Edmunds.com aims to streamline the car shopping experience and invest more heavily into its mobile strategy to keep up with rising trends in mobile shopping and showrooming.
“Mobile is 30 percent of our traffic and 40 percent of our page view,” said Seth Berkowitz, chief operating officer of Edmunds.com, Santa Monica, CA. “It’s astonishing to us that consumers can’t make an outbound text to dealers anywhere right now. As texting is probably the most ubiquitous and most popular form of communication, we believe that consumers should have the ability to do that from work, from home, or on-the-go.”
Integrating with mobile startup
Edmunds.com first discovered CarCode and its cloud-based texting platform when the mobile startup entered Edmunds’ Hackomotive challenge in February 2014. The event, which is now annual, was developed to encourage innovation in making the car shopping process more convenient and painless for consumers.
With CarCode’s service, participating dealerships will be able to receive and respond to consumers’ questions and comments through texts from their mobile devices. Dealers can attach clips of requested vehicles to text messages and upload price certificates to let the consumer know they will honor the Edmunds.com pricing.
Edmunds.com will provide leads to dealers via text as well, and will offer them the opportunity to add a “Text Us” button on the mobile sites for their respective dealerships. The “Text Us” button has shown high levels of user engagement, which the shopping site believes will only increase over time.
“For dealers, it opens up a new medium that wasn’t there before,” said Nick Gorton, co-founder of CarCode, Seattle, WA. “It’s a great way for the dealer to communicate with the customer in the way that they chose.”
The texting service has a simple user interface and also displays unanswered questions and average response times for dealers. Consumers will be able to text with dealers from their native text messaging formats, and each dealer will be assigned a local number so that consumers can make an instant connection, Mr. Berkowitz said.
Users can opt out anytime by texting the “STOP” keyword.
Industry mobile usage skyrockets
More car brands and sites are turning to mobile as consumers demand streamlined ways of shopping and hassle-free experiences. Another mobile application that links car dealers with prospective clients, TrueCar, saw more than one million app downloads last year alone (see story).
After CarCode won Edmunds’ Hackomotive competition, the product was supported through the Fastlane Accelerator program before the service was ready for demonstration. CarCode discovered that a growing number of consumers prefer to communicate with dealers through text messages, and believe that its service is relevant to the car industry going more mobile.
Edmunds.com experienced a 39 percent year-over-year rise in mobile usage in 2014. A recent study done by the site also showed that 100 percent of mobile device owners said they used their phones at a point during the car shopping process.
Edmunds.com will continue to invest in mobile, and recently added the LotBuddy app to its repertoire, which shows special deals to users upon their arrival at various dealerships.
“I think that the whole transaction will be conducted between dealers and consumers over platforms over time,” Mr. Berkowitz said. “We would like to have a role to play in allowing consumers to buy a car from the comfort of their home and on-the-go.”
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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