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Online Auto & Web 3.0 (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, Aug 16th 2007

Web 3.0 formula discussion (4C, P, VS)

Context
Most auto sites are targeted at meeting specific user needs. I liked the contextual split of new and used cars on Yahoo! Auto. This apart, users can find localized listing of car dealers. I would like auto sites to include special sections for first time buyers or luxury buyers. Also more contextual integration is required between car searches, dealers, car loans and payment mode.

Content
The content on most auto sites is impressive. The users can buy or sell cars, look for car descriptions, car stores, accessories, price listings. They can compare prices and features, place a bid, read reviews. They can access new articles on the auto market, seek advice on car finance or find information on car insurance. They can research tips on car safety and a host of other car related information.

AutoTrader has more than 3 million new, used and certified car listings. The site offers localized car price details.

eBay Turbo Lister is a free downloadable listing tool which helps users create professional listings, as well as upload and edit multiple items. Moreover, eBay Motors enables several third party services for customers including vehicle inspections, shipping, financing and insurance (up to $20,000 in buyer protection for qualified purchases).

Green Center in Yahoo! Auto is an interesting addition. It gives green ratings to cars on a 1-100 score, based on the vehicle’s environmental friendliness.

AOL, in partnership with CarFax Vehicle History Report, enables car buyers to check car history records for hidden problems, when buying used cars.

The Edmunds True Market Value generates customized reports on comparative price listing of new and used cars, based on geographical location. It also includes information on available rebates and incentives on the users’ car.

I liked the video and 360 degree demos and photos of car (including interiors) provided by Kelly Blue Book.

Community
Most automotive sites score high on Community features. Community on auto sites is mainly through blogs, forums, live chats, message boards, question and answer sections. AAA has 50 million subscribers. Green Yahoo Groups under Green Center in Yahoo Auto include user-generated content on hybrid cars, clean energy and future fuels.

At AOL Auto, users can upload videos of test drive or other auto related experiences and rate or comment on posts.

The users can post questions, send replies and also take part in live discussions on auto related issues at eBay Motors.

This section has immense potential and I would like auto sites to offer expert suggestions for queries … something like Car Talk on NPR.

Commerce
Most auto sites earn money from subscriptions, ad revenues, and commission on purchases. Some sites like eBay have included gift certificates.

Online auto portals could also consider retailing of auto parts and car accessories.

Personalization
Personalization on most auto sites is through e-mail alerts on latest offers, price quotes, new cars, attractive bids, offers or discounts, news on auto market trends, and notification on auto shows. eBay offers personalized notification of bids.

The entire personalization seems focused on the car buying process. What about post-purchase maintenance or performance related personalization?

Vertical Search
Vertical search features are impressive on almost all auto sites. Online auto portals allow searching of cars by zip code, category, company, model, price range and year of making, etc. Users can search for customized specifications for transmission, mileage or fuel consumption, all useful parameters for vertical search.

Vertical Search on AutoTrader

(To be Continued)

[Part 1]
[Part 2]
[Part 3]

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