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article imageCanadian startup Carmigo could simplify the car buying experience Special

By Daniel Edwards     May 13, 2015 in Technology
Recently launched automotive service Carmigo seeks to simplify the car shopping experience by allowing buyers to speak anonymously with multiple dealers to get the best possible deal.
After all the technological developments and industry disruptions that have occurred over the past decade alone it is evident that a lot has changed in how we conduct our daily lives. Fond memories of trying to remember which repetitive number was for your local taxi or calling up a family friend to see who has an available time share vacation property for your upcoming getaway have been replaced by Uber, Airbnb, and many other mobile applications which have taken daily decisions and simplified it to mere presses on your touchscreen.
Customer empowerment is a prominent theme in many recent startups as Uber allows everyday individuals to profit from the transportation industry while Airbnb turns anyone with an available room into local bed and breakfast host. One area where very little has changed in regards to the customer experience is in shopping for a new vehicle and that is where recently launched automobile liaison Carmigo comes into play.
Carmigo is a web-based platform where potential buyers can get all the pertinent information needed about a vehicle from a dealer representative without leaving the comfort of their home.
Of course the concept of searching for a vehicle has made the shift to online quite some time ago with the emergence of websites such as Kelley Blue Book, TrueCar, and Autotrader — which may now be known more for its Dukes of Hazards commercial spoof then its actual company— but these services differ from Carmigo because they are strictly sticker price focused. “When looking at the other websites they only focus on a price, but there is nothing that actually connects buyers with sellers. If you can communicate with multiple salespeople at competing dealerships you can solve a whole lot of problems. When a customer is able to figure out the price, payments, and what your trade in is worth from your mobile device that changes everything,” states Michael O’Connor CEO of Ottawa based Carmigo.
Social interaction online has seen unprecedented growth over the past decade and Carmigo is seeking to incorporate the present day normalcy of mobile communication to assist with the car shopping experience. Although for some car shopping is barely an experience as they are confident in their negotiating abilities, however based on the statistics compiled by Research House, 62 percent of car buyers are worried that they will not be able to negotiate the best deal. The results also revealed that 60 percent of individuals felt stressed by the idea of negotiating the right price with salespeople, followed by feeling pressured to get additional car options and the tedious nature of traveling around to multiple dealerships.
Carmigo has the potential to eliminate many of these stresses by allowing users to build the vehicle of their choice and send out a price request to multiple dealers in their area. Sales representatives would send back the offer giving the buyer a full view of the best prices in their area. Prices are important, but it is just one variable in the experience in O’Connor’s view as he states: “It starts with a fair price and it really goes from there to someone the customer likes and trusts”.
This is where Carmigo is really trying to separate itself from the rest of the crowd in this space as Carmigo is attempting to create a self sufficient eco system where prices are exchanged and relationships built all while giving the potential buyer complete anonymity until they make the next step to put the finishing touches on a deal which was in the works long before you even step foot in a dealership. “We believe that all transactions will occur within a dealership, however I think the amount of dealerships a buyer visits will be one, and it all will be based on how the dealerships deal with customer’s online,” says O’Connor.
To the relief of many who have ever sent an email inquiry about a vehicle only to be bombarded monthly with updates and questions even after you have made your decision, O’Connor’s personal experience with this inspired Carmigo to have private messages that do not reveal your personal contact information. Based in Ottawa, Carmigo is now available nationwide. But like with all new technologies there is an early adopter crowd which plays a major role in the growth and improvement of a product, while there also exists those who see the service more for a novice clientele.
O’Connor’s stance is that Carmigo is for anybody who wants to ensure that they are getting a fair price and that can only happen through shopping around. The difference now is that shopping around does not have to consist of the foot work which was once required.
Greater than the simplicity of the idea, Carmigo is part of a larger market movement which is technologies disrupting and revolutionizing traditionally non-technical markets. Startups such as Instacart which delivers groceries on demand or Cazaic which allows users to see multiple websites on one page, simplify everyday tasks. There is a formidable task ahead to convert salespeople and dealers to a more customer friendly yet more likely profitable business model. Currently Carmigo is focusing on getting the right salespeople who are willing to operate in an open and honest dialogue. Carmigo’s success will determine how car dealerships function as the coveted phrase of “come into the dealership and we can talks numbers” could become ineffective if the buyers decide that is not how they are going to car shop anymore.
If a larger market shift occurs that leans towards the upfront confidential utopia that Carmigo and the likes are seeking to develop then the sales representatives who are evasive and give the impression that you have to pull teeth to get a price will have to conform in a similar fashion that other industries altered by advancements have. The reality is as O’Connor states “The consumers are empowered because they are the ones holding the cheque book. At the end of the day all the consumer really wants is a fair price from someone they trust.”
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