Many would be familiar with the Carsome name. Perhaps you’ve even sold your car to the company, or via them before. After a couple of years of buying used cars and moving them on to dealers, Carsome is now getting into the game of retailing used cars themselves, via a new online marketplace and flagship store.
And there’s no better time to go B2C. Last month, Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad said that the used car sector is currently doing “roaring business”, recording over 100% year-on-year growth in the first half of 2020. This boost in demand for used cars is partly down to people wanting their personal set of wheels in the era of Covid-19.
There are many good deals to be had in the used car arena, but as we’ve pointed out in our recent used car buying guide, it’s a minefield for those who aren’t familiar with the nuts and bolts of cars. Even for those who are more informed, the sheer amount of choice and the areas to inspect can be daunting. And there’s also the issue of trust when it comes to dealers.
Carsome co-founder and CEO Eric Cheng says that many used car buyers are worried about car quality and potential post-purchase problems, and Carsome’s new venture is to address these issues.
“Our Car Purchase Preference Survey shows that consumers appreciate features like extended warranty, test drive and money-back guarantee when it comes to buying used cars. The Carsome Promise and our carefully curated selection of Carsome Certified cars offer customers peace of mind when getting a pre-owned car,” he said.
While that sounds like a pipe dream, especially the money-back guarantee part, that’s exactly what Carsome is offering with the cars it sells – a five-day money-back guarantee. Somehow not happy with your new purchase? Swap to another car or get your money back within the five-day period. Cheng’s example is of an avid golfer unable to fit his equipment in the new car’s boot.
Besides the novel guarantee, the other elements in the Carsome Promise package are a one-year warranty and the passing of Carsome’s 175-point inspection, the same one it uses when purchasing your car for resale. That’s called “Carsome Certified”, and it also means that cars have not been in major accidents, and do not have structural or flood damage. Acknowledging that no car is perfect, images of minor flaws will be shared in listings.
One can browse Carsome’s range on its website, with all listings furnished with 360-degree views of the exterior and interior, and a list of the imperfections with the reconditioned report. Also, one big hassle of used car buying is removed here – there’s no price negotiation needed, because the price you see on the site is the final all-inclusive OTR price, so there’s no need to ask for a discount.
Carsome’s online platform is open to its used car dealer partners as well – for these listings, one deals direct with the dealer. These ads are tagged “Carsome Certified”; while they have been inspected by Carsome, they do not come with the above-mentioned one-year warranty and money-back guarantee.
If a car catches your eye, you can book an appointment online and proceed to test drive at the Carsome Experience Center. The flagship store at Parklane Commercial Hub in Kelana Jaya started operations earlier this month and was officially opened today. Except for the car you’re scheduled to test drive, there will be no other cars at the “showroom”, which is filled with couches and iPads. The new outlet is next to an inspection centre.
Besides its own property, Carsome has also set up official stores on Shopee and Lazada. There are some ongoing launch promos such as free merchandise for test drives, a RM500 discount for those who have previously sold their cars to Carsome, and a referral scheme with combined cash rewards of RM800.
We caught up with Cheng (right in the pic above) and fellow co-founder Teoh Jiun Ee after the outlet’s opening ceremony and found the startup to be in good health. Last year was Carsome’s best ever year with 40,000 cars worth RM1.2 billion handled across the region – besides Malaysia (which contributes up to 65% of Carsome’s business), it operates in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.
One would think that Covid-19 has dampened prospects for the company, but it is well on track to double the 40k total this year. A new business (new logo too, by the way) in the midst of Covid? “The timing couldn’t be better,” Cheng said. Check out our used car buying guide here.