One of our concluding remarks in our Used Car Platforms in Southeast Asia Report published earlier this year was that these players would gradually evolve towards adopting a C2B2C model – a natural evolution for players to capture the whole value chain and squeeze efficiencies out of it: 

One of the major players, Carsome, just did that with announcing their B2C segment recently, and opening a new flagship store called Carsome Experience Centre in Kuala Lumpur.  

The timing makes sense for more established players to do that – the used car industry is less affected by the pandemic, and in Carsome’s case, the volume seems to have rebounded to pre-COVID levels. Besides, in time of uncertainty, consumers will probably want to reduce travel and rely on brand trust. 

It seems that the company has a few things up their sleeve during the COVID pandemic. It introduced a warranty programme for the vehicles it certified. Home delivery (of the purchased used car) is also included.

Carro, a Singapore based company, too launched its B2C showroom a couple months back  – a 5000 sq ft facility in Bekasi, a satellite city of Jakarta. 

Staying true to their explorer-like nature, Carro was indeed the first among the three platforms (the other one being BeliMobilGue, which has recently been rebranded to OLX Autos) to branch into the B2C space. Although it is worth noting that in worsening covid situation in Indonesia (Jakarta re-introduced partial lock down this month), it might take a while for car buyers to be comfortably travelling half of the city to visit a showroom. 

In addition, Carsome’s B2C foray is in Malaysia, a market where it started and where it is very established, with brand name, service standard and data; while Carro’s effort in Indonesia seems to be ahead of its time, again. 

All in all, it’s good to see that the players in the region are moving towards a more integrated platform as we anticipated – completing the C2B2C loop and ultimately applying further focus on the final consumer. 

The good news is that competition in the region is not that fierce (compared to US or China), allowing leading players to actually build a proper platform, and take regional/category expansion step by step. 

Ancillary Services

It is without a doubt that as transactions continue to increase on both ends of the spectrum (especially now with B2C in play), ancillary services become increasingly interesting. 

In 2019, we saw the platforms spend a significant amount of time beefing up their ancillaries – in hindsight, preparing the foundation needed to provide a holistic experience across the supply chain. 

Carro aggressively expanded their services from having a full-fledged financing subsidiary to handle dealership services, insurance, and loans to providing roadside assistance and leasing options. Seems like they have all the ancillaries pretty much covered, again ahead of time. 

Carro is also bidding for the digital bank license in Singapore, which in our opinion is more of a distraction. With the license will be the commitment and costs associated with service level, compliance and security – which makes sense for large consumer focused use cases (such as those of Grab) but is hardly relevant for a low frequency use case. 

For Carro, Carsome and OLX Autos, it might make more sense to use their platform advantages, including traffic, branding and data, to work with established financing institutions, rather than taking the financing risks themselves.

CIMB

Just a month before their B2C announcement, Carsome entered a partnership with CIMB to launch a co-developed inventory financing solution for dealers. This seems to be a first-in-market collaboration between a bank (not a P2P financing platform) and an online used-car platform, expecting to drive demand within the industry. 

We have yet to see if this partnership or similar initiative is extending into their B2C space. 

Carsome’s ancillary services are only now starting to grow, this is no surprise as the Malaysian-based platform adopts a “product development” strategy focus – where they focus on improving core functions like inspections and pricing before moving to other areas. 

Carsome business strategy

The next few months will be telling to see if the company is moving fast enough to capture the market and strengthen their position in the B2C space. 

Summary

It is exciting times ahead for these platforms as they close the C2B2C loop and race to capture the market; but there is going to be a heck load of work into ensuring that these strategies are executed well. This is especially challenging as players have to win in multiple, diverse markets in Southeast Asia – steady hands required.

Will we see a Carvana-like surge in the region? 

Momentum Works Used Car Marketplaces In Southeast Asia report is complimentary for industry stakeholders, investors and academia. To obtain a copy, please email insights@mworks.asia

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at hello@mworks.asia.