Hennessy is a former CEO of Priceline.com, an early disruptive force for travel services. He talked with Webster about how online platforms could disrupt the automotive sales experience in major ways going forward — even in an automotive world still dominated by dealerships and how they go about the commerce of cars and trucks.
Before drilling down, it’s important to note that Vroom is not an online marketplace for used cars, but a platform. That means Vroom inspects, buys and reconditions the vehicles it offers for sale, assuming all the risk instead of simply matching sellers and buyers. That’s still a pretty new concept in the digital and mobile worlds, but one that could be imitated or innovated within the coming decade of the 2020s.
The platform model also gives Vroom control.
“At the highest level, companies with platforms tend to be able to own the experience and deliver a better experience than a marketplace,” he told Webster.
Indeed, a used car marketplace, he explained, just tends to guide customers back to dealerships (which, of course, sell both new and used vehicles). Hennessy has bigger aims than that. The way he told it, he wants to bring true disruption to the sales of used cars, and that will require an online platform model.
Digital and mobile channels that offer used car sales are spreading, and comfort among consumers to buy vehicles from digital and mobile channels is increasing. But succeeding with such disruption is not going to be easy.
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