HelloCars lets Australians buy cars online
Sydney start-up HelloCars has made it possible for Australians to purchase cars online, with the launch of its used car marketplace last week.
Founded by brothers Paul and Michael Higgins, HelloCars is a two-sided online marketplace where people can buy and sell used cars. “We’re a registered motor dealer and you only every transact with [HelloCars], it’s not a peer-to-peer service,” Paul said.
People looking to sell their cars can get an instant quote from the HelloCars website. The company conducts a 230-point inspection of the vehicle. If the car meets the manufacturer’s specifications for certification, and is under six years old with fewer than 100,000 km, HelloCars will make an offer that is guaranteed to be better than any dealer.
“The reason we offer such competitive pricing is because we don’t have the showrooms or sales people [that dealerships have],” Michael said. This also benefits buyers, with HelloCars listing used cars for thousands below the average advertised dealer price.
Buyers are not only able to view used cars on HelloCars, but they can also make a purchase directly on the marketplace. They pay a deposit of $500-2000 online and settle the balance through an electronic funds transfer (EFT) or bank cheque before the car is delivered.
“This is an Australian first. Nobody else lets you click ‘buy it now’ and delivers the car to your door,” Michael said, drawing a contrast with companies like Carsales.com.au, which are essentially online classifieds rather than virtual dealerships.
HelloCars aims to bring the convenience and transparency of online shopping to an industry that has long relied on the negotiation process, even as consumers have become less comfortable with haggling on price.
Paul and Michael believe this will help consumers overcome any hesitation they might otherwise have about making such a large purchase online. Offering better prices than used car dealerships and a seven-day money-back guarantee if buyers aren’t happy with their purchase also go a long way towards reassuring consumers.
On the other hand, in the age of Amazon, some people are completely nonplussed by the idea of buying a car online. “Our first customer was a 72-year-old gentleman. He thought that’s just how it works today,” Michael said.
That first purchase was made on a desktop computer, but the third purchase was made on a mobile device. This is particularly satisfying for HelloCars, which built the platform to be mobile first.
Sales have been higher than anticipated since the soft launch two weeks ago, Paul and Michael said. While the co-founders did not wish to share specific numbers, citing the fact that HelloCars is a private company, they said they were surprised at how quickly people were open to the concept.
Currently, HelloCars is available in the greater Sydney area, with plans to expand to Melbourne and Brisbane, likely followed by Perth and Adelaide, in the coming months.
Going forward, HelloCars is also looking into alternative payment methods beyond EFT and bank cheque. “I don’t think there’s anything great out there for such large ticket items that are risk free enough for us,” Paul said.
“We’d love to get into a situation where people are both selling and buying a car through us. So they would just pay the difference, and it’s a shopping cart transaction,” he said. This functionality is currently offered by US companies like Beepi, Carvana and Shift, and Carspring in the UK, while it is is still to come for HelloCars customers.