Tell us about Carmudi?
Carmudi is an online vehicle marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of cars together; so if you want to sell your vehicle, you can go to our website. You can find thirty thousand cars on our website, for example. You can search for your specific vehicle of your dreams and you can go a step further to talk to the dealers, negotiate and look at the different options that you have. We have recently launched a mobile app which means you can have Carmudi on your Android device. You can find all our vehicles at your fingertips.
Do you think the internet is redefining the vehicle marketplace in Nigeria?
It’s much easier to sell a car now when you have hundreds and thousands of visitors every month. It’s much easier to buy a car if you have a broad range of over thirty thousand vehicles. Things like that really make the economy more efficient and vibrant. I am proud in a way about the impact Carmudi has on the Nigerian economy. We started ten months ago, three months back, we had ten thousand listings on our website; now we have thirty thousand listings. It took us some time in the beginning to figure out how to make it work; now we have grown really fast.
How do you hope to change the mindset of car dealers, who like to do business the old-fashioned way, because most of them are not computer literate?
This was a big challenge we were facing in the beginning when it came to convincing car dealers who has been in the business for close to twenty years that some new technology or the internet could help them sell more cars. It took us a while to figure out how to address them, but then we did it. We offered our services for free and they noticed that people were starting to call them and didn’t even need to know what the internet does. If they get calls to our website, that’s how they make sales and they get happy and that’s how we bridge the relationships with dealers. We have a trusted relationship with our dealers. We go to them regularly, educate them on Carmudi, that’s the kind of incentive we offer them. If they also get calls from our website, and if they get sales, that is when they get real benefits.
How do you make money?
Yes. Professional dealers who have a number of cars are charged a monthly listing fee and that’s our own main source of revenue. In terms of special treatment, we send our representatives to them to actually look at the cars and update the listings, we take the photographs of these cars and they in turn pay monthly for it. That is how we basically make money.
How are you addressing the issue of fraud?
We do everything we can to differentiate us from that. For example, we have a team of quality assurance people who ensure that the vehicles and the prices are realistic and the location, if it is accessible or not, it might be fraud and the people might be checked. We have our agents who are working with professional dealers to see that all the vehicles that are snapped get a feedback of our customers that is what our team is handling. Also, we have tried to provide additional services introducing our car checking service. We have independent mechanics that go to check and assess these vehicles. They tell you about every little thing that is wrong with the vehicle and we publicize it on the website. It helps people to make their decisions and we have a section of dealers who have worked with us for more than half of the year and we have no complaints from them.
What is the future for Carmudi?
Now that we have established a really good website, we want to make sure that anybody that wants to buy a car and has internet access knows about Carmudi. That’s our priority right now. It is not everybody that knows Carmudi out there. So, we need to do a lot of marketing and advertising to reach these people. That’s our major priority right now to increase traffic. Nigerian customers are picky in a kind of way. We have to only convince them to use our website.
The internet has changed us all, effectively
With hundreds of new online stores and services within your click or a tap on your mobile phone, the e-commerce boom is now part of Nigeria’s deepening digital culture. You can virtually do everything that was once traditional online now, including getting a spouse. Our daily lives are increasingly coloured by the likes of Konga.com, Carmudi. com, Lamudi.com, Jumia.com, Irokotv, Hutbay and a host of several others rendering services that we used to go out to get. Even banks such as UBA and GTB have opened their own stores to join the array of change agents who are increasingly redefining our living style. According to Euromoney International, online sales in Nigeria have multiplied between 2011 and 2012 from $10.5 million to about $3 billion. We are all going online. The new definers for wealth and relevance are increasingly being based on how much of online activities we engage in. People are richer and have higher net worth because they have greater spread and thicker digital value than us. It used not to be so. But in the 21st century Nigeria, you are likely to stand ahead of your peers if you effectively manage your time, money and other resource by how much of online engagements you carry out. If our neighbours acquired new cars, executed huge financial transactions, ordered for taxi cabs or meals and even implemented forex activities all within the confine of their homes or offices in minutes while we spent the entire week doing half of same tasks moving from one end of the city to the other, then they have proven to be more effective than us. What it means is that only effective people are wont to visit Carmudi and the likes to gain on time and save on scarce resource. Ineffective people are ineffective simply because they are still ignorant of how effectively the internet has changed our world and could change us all!