It’s with great pleasure that Auto Portal Watch welcomes Elaine Richards, Executive Vice President of Business Operations for Cars.com, to our speaker list for Global Online Classifieds Summit 2017 in Miami.
Lending her skills to US-based automotive portal giant Cars.com for the past six years, Richards is a leading authority on digital marketing strategies, B2B business development and automotive sales.
Recently accepting the role as Executive Vice President of Business Operations, she is excited to sink her teeth into her next project.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to work on several initiatives across multiple functions of the organization that are important to our long-term business success. It’s critical for us that sales, marketing and product are in lock step and all working toward the same goal,” she said.
Founded in 1998, Cars.com has grown into one of the largest digital automotive platforms in the United States. Users are able to shop online for the best new and used vehicles from dealers across the country, sell their vehicles, read reviews from other shoppers, and research the company’s extensive database of editorial content via the website or app that’s available on Apple or Android devices.
Despite the trend of automotive portals that are 100% online such as Cartopia.com in New Zealand and Carparagon.com in Thailand, Richards believes it’s still important to maintain a relationship with car dealers on the ground in the US.
“It differs somewhat depending on the country, in the US it’s a very franchise-driven business by design and we have very successful local retailers. At Cars.com we’re committed to helping consumers navigate every stage of car ownership while also ensuring those local business owners are successful,” she says.
Richards is looking forward to taking Cars.com even further as the company prepares to spin into an independent, publicly-traded company.
“We are getting ready to spin out from our parent company [Tegna] in Q1 of next year, so we’ll be a standalone publicly traded entity. It’s an important and exciting time in the history of our company, and we’re confident in our ability to pursue even further growth,” she says.
“We have some interesting product innovations coming out on our app and website to help further improve the consumer shopping experience, and we’re using mobile native capabilities for on-the-lot shoppers.”
“We also have been committed to evolving the conversation around attribution in our industry to help bridge the gap between online and offline sales. We have a lot of data analysis going on around tracking the ROI of Cars.com visitors well beyond traditional lead measures.”
Attendees at the Global Online Classified’s conference can also look forward to hearing Elaine present findings on the importance of online reputation and digital word of mouth.
“We’re the top review site in our space and feel it’s our responsibility to stay one step ahead of the latest trends. Our new research looks at how online reviews drive action from consumers and impact the car shopping process,” she says.
“I’m looking forward to sharing what we’ve learned with the group in Miami.”