Christian Keller, managing director, Carmudi Nigeria & Ghana, graduated from University of Mannheim, Germany, and holds an MBA from Portland State University, USA.
Prior to joining Carmudi, he worked in corporate strategy at Swisscom and in management consulting at Arthur D. Little and IBM in Europe with a focus on ICT and automotive industries.
He shared Carmudi’s vision for the Nigeria’s automobile market with peter ugwu.
Carmudi is Nigeria’s leading online vehicle market place. It functions as a hub that connects buyers and sellers of cars, tricycles and other mobility in that category.
So, if you are looking for a car, you will find, at the moment, over 35,000 unique listed cars on the website. For instance, if you are searching for Toyota Camry of a particular price range, colour, you will find a vast amount of them on our site.
Based on our findings, for a long time, Nigerians have been made to drive around major cities all in search of the right car to suit their budget and taste, but since the emergence of Carmudi.com.ng they are able to sit in the convenience of their homes, offices or any other locations and search through thousands of new, used (Tokunbo) and Nigerian used vehicles to buy – all quality-approved.
Now, they have a choice and no longer restricted to car sales in their immediate environment and to the dealers they already know well, as we have taken time to attract a large population of independent car dealers and individual car sellers to our site and verify all these dealers and sellers in a bid to build a large car market network and strengthen trust which is commonly lacked amongst buyers and sellers. In the past, people had to reach out to friends and it takes some months to get them purchase a car.
Uniqueness Of Carmudi App
It is less than a year that we launched in Nigeria and we already have most of the cars that are for sale in Nigeria on carmudi.com.ng.
So, it has been a huge adoption in the market. In the beginning, it took some months to convince the professional car dealers to list on our site.
The challenge was how we could convince those that have not used the internet before to place their cars on our site.
So, we used a team of enthusiastic young car lovers to reach out to them; preaching the good news of the internet.
We made them to understand the importance of going online. It was a very big plus to us, because we have become internet evangelists, harping on the need to adopt the platform which has become home for all.
So, our team moved, had discussions with them and that helped us to get have enough interest to first of all visit our site and get firsthand knowledge on the message we brought to them.
Subsequently, we saw them coming to enlist; many did that from their sales outlets using their devices.
Connecting Buyers And Sellers
We simplified the process; making buying easier and better. Now, with car inventory of over 35,000 unique vehicles and an average constant new addition to inventory of cars, trucks and buses in a month, a potential buyer can buy a car that has been certified by auto experts and workshops.
As you continue with the transaction the assurance is that this is the first of its kind in Nigeria; full auto expert reports and history of your Nigerian used car.
The buyer will just browse through our list of dealers and sellers who offer purchase support and incentives such as: warranty, price negotiation and installment payment. One thing is clear; we do not charge you to access dealer or seller information.
Importance of Carmudi to Sellers
Of course, they are quite important, because they are the ones to make available list of cars for sell with the specs.
So, as a dealer you no longer need to park cars by the road side and put a plastic bottle on it. From the comfort of your home all you need to do now is to take three easy steps: Take a photo. Post it. Sell. It is simple.
Take very clean and nice photos of the vehicle; write up a nice advert of your car, with a good and clear description to give buyers a good idea of what they are getting into, and post it right away; then have buyers contact you and sell it. So, you can put the car on Carmudi and based on the potentials, you can sell as quickly as possible.
Mechanism for Verifications and Guard against Fraudsters
Apparently, one of the reason people were skeptical about embrace e-commerce was the issue of fraudsters; people masquerading as genuine to either tap others’ data or tap into their financial records, and this time, posing as real car dealers to defraud people.
One thing is that we do not compromise standards, because the integrity of our platform will be called to question should we compromise.
At Carmudi, we know that customers are concerned about that. I make bold to say that we do not accept scams on our website. Our team is on ground, moving round the streets to actually take photos of the cars that are uploaded.
The quality assurance team (QST) ensure nothing about the car is fraudulent or below standard. As people are uploading on their own, the quality assurance team also does background checks such as calling to confirm biography given by the person. This also guides in ensuring the car actually matches the price.
Connecting Non-Internet Compliant Car Dealers
The way we make money is that we charge small amount of fee from professional car dealers. But if we find out that in the beginning we need to give the space on free-trial to them, to have first-time experience, we do that.
Testing will always convince them; by doing that we have been able to bring most of them online. Most importantly, when they post or list their cars online and get patronized by potential customers, it is evidence to them that online marketing or transactions are real.
Some time, referrals help to market us. People who have gone through the seamless process go to town to inform others. That is the beauty of the internet.
When you are genuine there is nothing to fear about e-commerce. Likewise, the customers, they have nothing to fear. We usual advice them on the processes and things to look out for while buying certain categories of car through our carmudi online journal too.
We found that education is key in this aspect of business as well. At time, people buy out of persuasion from friends or relatives, but there are critical decisions one has to make before buying any brand of car.
The Tide of Competition
There is a vast of sites with some car listed on them, that is the basic truth, but that does not mean it is the business they are set out to do.
Carmudi is the premium cars website, dominating the space and become a house-hold name. To us, every listing is unique; there is no room for complicity.
Our quality assurance is there to ensure high level of compliance by both parties. We work hard every day that all vehicles listes are actually genuine and for sale. Our great customer care representatives will be happy to help you in case of questions.
Impact on Internet Penetration
Internet penetration is key in this kind of start-up (business). Although, it is still on the rise in Nigeria, however, we have seen a shift towards usage.
We just launched the Carmudi App, where you can have over 35,000 cars in your pocket. You can browse it from anywhere at your convenient anytime. So, we hope to leverage on the increasing internet penetration in the country.
Adoption Rate Outside Lagos
We have people all over Nigeria, including the major cities, Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. However, Lagos remains the location in Nigeria where most cars are imported into and people come from far and near to buy cars.