Scope of Automobile Classifieds in India: The Story of Autoportal

Image Source: Motorward

Image Source: Motorward – launched as a vertical online classifieds portal in automobile category, is chasing the expected growth in online advertising in India. It was initially launched in Ukraine by Anton Rublevskyy and expanded to India to seek further growth.

iamWire got in touch with Autoportal India’s spokesperson, Sagar Das, to get an insight into where the company and the market are headed. Below are the excerpts of the interaction:

What led to the conception of this idea?

There is lack of automotive vertical in India which solves the problems for buyer or sellers at the micro level today. Magazines and other sources help consumers to get a lot of information but do not offer significant help in the decision making process and effective research.

Hence, there is huge opportunity to solve this problem through technology services. It has been setup with a mission to create a true marketplace, building strong proposition for buyers and sellers.

Why did Autoportal choose India to expand?

After Autoportal success in Ukraine, We decided to expand to emerging markets witnessing a huge potential in the auto sector of India.

Such as Internet user base fast reaching 300M+, fast growing and highly unorganized automotive market – particularly, pre-owned vehicles and after sales market, lack of competing players, who are solving the underlying key problems of vehicle buyer or seller convincingly.

What are the typical problems are you solving for this segment?

Buyers are spending a lot of time in choosing & negotiating car deals despite long-standing promises of Internet to streamline classified market.

We are trying to solve time spent during the whole transaction process offline by building different tools & services, help the buyer to get an elaborate inventory of vehicles near his/her location with useful and up-to-date descriptions, helping in add-on services of finance, insurance, and connecting with sellers all the help of technology platform.

What are the revenue opportunities in Auto Classified space beyond advertising?

Display & mobile advertising will constitute 37% of the total online ad expenditure, which is expected to be at Rs 3,575 Cr by end of 2015. We are catering to a premium segment like automobile; hence, our scope will not be limited to Automotive & BFSI clients only.

Apart from the above, there will be lot of advertising opportunities from the dealers, accessory manufacturers as well at the retail level to cater to the local hypermarket customers. We are not limited to standard advertising models only. We are also experimenting in a lot of non-standard ways of engagement, content marketing for brands on our platform, applying creativity & data science etc.

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What is the role of tech in your growth?

We are passionate about technology and product. Our approach to solve each problem will be different using high end technology & creativity. Our technology & product team are based in Ukraine and India.

What is the scope and your opinion on the present status of the Industry.

Although real estate and job recruitments take the lead over automobiles in the online classified industry in India at present, auto is what leads in the United States of America. In India too, the prevailing trend may change with the recent influx of investments in this sector.

We expect an amalgamation of existing trends in terms of technology, and diversification in terms of strategy. With increasing Internet penetration & mobile Internet usage, the Indian internet market can grow to $137 billion by 2020 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43%, constituting 7% of the GDP. Of this, classifieds/online advertising are estimated to grow to $7 billion, representing 37% CAGR.

Be it any sector – jobs, real estate, automobiles and bikes, matrimonial, electronics and many other articles, online horizontal portals such as are flourishing and since the market is largely unorganized in auto – particularly in the pre-owned and after sales markets, this leave a highly untapped market opportunity.

How does this sector growing in real? How big do you think would it get? Is there a room for more players?

Unlike the US, Indians were not psychologically ready for classifieds going online back in 2009. Even today, transactions are happening offline. But the market is slowly reframing.

Even though several aggregators including OEMs are trying to set organized marketplace, Auto classified market is still highly unorganized in India.

Classified industry has a huge scope in the redefined Indian market. Incepted into the Indian market in November, 2013, Autoportal is all set to partake the lion’s share in India’s online classified industry, which is expected to grow to Rs 31 billion by 2016, benefitting all – sellers, buyers and the portals themselves

What do you think are the do’s & don’t in this category?

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The online automotive classified industry has a lot going for it. It is simple to use, thanks to the user-friendly interface developed. Posting ads by the seller takes only minutes, as does buying. The convenience of posting classifieds while sitting at home or at work, instead of having to run to newspaper offices with typed content etc. is unparalleled. Likewise for purchasers.

The buyer has a much larger variety available to him/ her online, i.e. the number of listings that can be perused by a prospective buyer in newsprint in two weeks can potentially be seen by the same buyer online in a single day. The information is available at one go, instead of coming in piece by piece every day, enabling quicker and more efficient decisions.

Online classifieds are much more pleasing to the eyes and therefore, enticing; offering colored photographs and comparisons etc.New technologies are allowing online classifieds to allow sellers and buyers to connect and correspond with each other immediately and easily.Money matters, and the low costs of online classifieds as opposed to newsprint classifieds gives the former a definite edge over the latter.

However, as is the case with every sector, not everything is fine. Certain challenges do exist, such as the omnipresent issue of online scams. ‘Buyer Beware’ is the motto to be followed.

Online portals often indulge in ‘information hoarding’, thereby inducing payment of commission or brokerage to them. Although information is freely available, the actual transaction may still cost quite a bit.

There is a clear discrepancy between the buyers and sellers, i.e. the former far outnumber the latter. Indian consumers still have a long way to go when it comes to making big purchases (such as cars) online, without the traditional ‘touching, seeing, physically evaluating’ itch. An offline component is at times, required to complement the online model.

What is the way forward for Autoportal? What are your plans for business expansion and new business?

With a rapid growth of visitors since last year, and favorable ecosystem, the future of online classified for automobiles is bright.

Also increasing hectic populace & the need for convenience is adding up to the trend. There is a need for quick  & time saving transaction.

The growth opportunities in this sector are tremendous. The sector is following the global trend; online automotive classifieds in India are all set to overtake other online classified verticals.