eBay Motors has been doing online car sales since 2000.
Before you could post on Facebook (launched in 2004) or watch a video on YouTube (2005) — or do either on an iPhone (2007) — you could buy a car online.
So, the Web-based car sales model that has mushroomed throughout the auto industry is nothing new for the San Jose, Calif.-based company.
But there are considerably more players in this space than even five years ago, and certainly more than the 2000s.
When direct-to-consumer and peer-to-peer startups dot the automotive roadmap and goliaths like AutoNation and General Motors enter the space, how does eBay Motors adapt, continue to compete and differentiate itself?
“That’s actually the core question that we are working on right now,” eBay Motors senior manager of vehicles Clayton Stanfield said during an interview here during the NADA Convention & Expo. “The first time you interviewed us, probably, we were that industry. There was nobody else.”
During the April interview, Stanfield recalled watching AutoNation leadership say “we’re going to do the whole process online,” eight years ago.
He found it to be “thought-provoking” for an industry giant with hundreds of stores to say that. It was huge, Stanfield said.
It signaled a change that was forthcoming; the industry was migrating that direction.
That migration has turned into a sprint during the last two to three years, with startups like Beepi, Carvana, Shift, and other rivals emerging along with moves made by more traditional players to become more online-driven and convenience-based.
“Some people think of it as a threat to what we’re doing, and I see it as a huge opportunity, if we do it the right way,” Stanfield said.
In fact, dealers “used to look at eBay Motors as a threat,” he adds.
“Like (we were) trying to change the way people buy cars,” Stanfield said. “But what they realized at the end of the day is, we are changing the way they buy cars, but they’re still getting it from a dealer. We don’t compete with dealers.
“So, I think that’s what’s going to come down later is, people look at these other companies, they see them competing with AutoNation. They’re competing with Sonic. We’re not competing with them,” he said.
“In fact, what I hope that happens is that the industry, who says ‘We want to get our technology to a level of a Beepi and a Vroom, and we have to be in that space,’ they look at eBay as the vertical to get them there. Because we are in that space,” he said. “So, there’s some things that we have to do, I think on our end, to get there.”
Not that the company has been resting on its laurels; it has already been an active year for eBay Motors.
Just before the NADA Convention began, eBay Motors announced it had acquired Cargigi — a provider of online advertising and marketing services — to replace eBay Motors’ Dealer Center.
Earlier in March, the company announced a partnership with WeGoLook, where users of eBay Motors have the inspection services of WeGoLook at their disposal. Through WeGoLook, eBay Motors will be able to offer on-site inspections on any car, motorcycle, RV, powersport vehicle or boat in the U.S.
And chances are, it will continue to adapt.