12th: Another way to buy used cars and more

Here is this week’s idea: why are all websites sells used cars the same?

They all have something like this:

from https://www.autotrader.com

They all have this kind of control for the users to filter what they want. It is a reasonable assumption. This kind of control is used by the potential buyers. However, has anyone thought of: this kind of website is actually initialized for the sellers.

By that, I mean: a seller will have to first go to that website, enter the selling vehicle’s information, as detailed as possible. Of course, it is also possible that a web crawler can do this job. It pulls the information from all sorts of website and extract those data from the description.

Therefore, a website that sells used cars must first have used cars to sell, and then when potential buyers come, they will be able to search.


E-commerce Websites are the Same

In fact, not only used car websites, all other E-commerce websites are the same. They first have things to sell, and then they attract buyers to find them. They all start from the seller’s perspective.


Another Perspective

What if a website starts from buyers’ perspective?

Let’s use cars as an example again. Here is a potential user flow:

  • A user enters some basic criteria on what used car he/she wants to buy: the type of car, mileage, budget, etc.
  • Sellers who think they have the possible used cars this particular user likes will submit an application, almost like submitting a job application, including what his or her car is and why the buyer should pick his/hers.

You may say, isn’t it the “WANT” option on craigslist?

True.

But there are more.

  • The website then uses algorithm to pick a few most likely to be sold cars (the number is user configurable) and then presents to the buyer.
  • The buyer can choose to pick one from the list and contact the seller directly. They are free to complete the transaction with each other offline.

You may ask: hey, where is the revenue stream?

Here it is.

  • The buyer can opt in a service that assists you to complete the transaction. The assistance could include
    • legal assistance: help finish all the paper work
    • mechanic check assistance: help inspect the car and provide accurate estimate and negotiation
  • The seller can also opt in a service that pre-inspect the selling car, which will show a proof that the car has been inspected (on what date). This can increase the likelihood that the car gets picked by a potential buyer.

I think it will work.

Unlike the bidding from eBay, which must have the sellers first. This idea serves the buyers first. The sellers must “sell”. Every seller is like a salesman on this website.


Extend Further

Let’s go further from here.

What if every E-commerce is like that?

Here is a use case.

I want to buy a book case. Traditionally, I will go to Google to find what website sells book cases. I examine all different websites for all the book cases, and read the reviews of the book case, and then read the review of the website (unless it’s a big trust-able seller).

That is totally waste of my time.

What if I enter briefly what I want in the book case, say, I want 4 levels, wood, with a stair. It should be A meter wide and B meter tall.

Now, all the sellers to submit an application of their book cases. Sure, you can argue this will only work if the sellers (human) are actively monitoring the request. But think about the possibility that we can build a robots pulling the information from all sorts of website and then intelligently select the most possible items I will be interested.

I will be given, say 10 different book cases. I am free to click the item and go to that website to complete the purchase. However, I can opt in a service that uses machine learning to tell me if those items are priced accurately. This will be useful, especially if some of those items are second-handed.


Conclusion

The idea is, a website serves from a buyer’s perspective, reduces the noise the buyer could receive from traditional E-commerce approach, and offer intelligent service to facilitate the buyers to find the things they most likely fall in love with.

I seriously think it might work.