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Site review: Carwow

27 Dec

“Be a happy car buyer” is what it says on the homepage of http://www.carwow.co.uk/. The promise here is that people will “Experience new car buying without any of the hassle or uncertainty”. Carwow’s proposition is effectively a reverse marketplace; enabling users to specify the car that they would like to buy and attracting offers based on their specifications. Once a user has specified things like a car’s make, model, features, etc. they receive offers directly from dealers.

Users can compare offers by price, location of the dealer, reviews by other users and what’s actually in stock, all done in a very transparent fashion. It’s then up to the buyer to decide whether to contact a dealer based on their offer, either by anonymous messaging through the Carwow platform or by giving the dealer a call. This all sounds very promising, let’s have a closer look at http://www.carwow.co.uk/ :

  1. How did this site come to my attention? – London-based Carwow recently secured additional funding in a Series A round, led by Balderton Capital. This bit of news drew my attention and I searched for Carwow’s site.
  2. My quick summary of the site (before using it) – I expect to be able to compare prices from different car dealers, and I expect to be able to read reviews of what other people think of a particular car.
  3. How does the site explain itself in the first minute? – I love the uncluttered design of Carwow’s homepage (see Fig. 1 below). Rather than trying to cram as much info as possible into prime real estate, Carwow has gone for a parallax design which works really nicely. The copy used on the first screen could be a tad more self-explanatory in my opinion. It currently says “Be a happy car buyer. Experience new car buying without any of the hassle or uncertainty”. However, it would be good to spell out the user benefits more clearly, outlining why people should be using Carwow over the tons of other car sites out there. I’ve drafted some alternative copy suggestions in Fig. 2 below.
  4. Getting started, what’s the process like (1)? – I start the process by clicking on the “Choose car” button (see Fig. 3 below). I then choose a make. Whilst doing this I was thrown slightly by the fact it also mentions “next choose a model”; I wasn’t sure whether I needed to click on this (it turned out to be non-clickable) or whether this was just a signpost, meant to give an indication of the next step (see Fig. 3 below). Indeed, once I’ve chosen a make (Toyota), I need to choose a model (see Fig. 4 below). I then select an engine (petrol or diesel) and a gearbox (automatic or manual), after which I’m presented with a screen through which I can indicate which models I’d like to receive offers for (see Fig. 5 below).
  5. Getting started, what’s the process like (2)? – After selecting the model that I’d like to receive offers for, I can then choose a colour and any additional features. I’m then presented with a recommended retail price (‘RRP’) (see Fig. 5 below). Perhaps a minor point, but I think it would be good if some of the abbreviations used throughout the process were explained or if there was an easy way for me to find out about things like ‘RRP’ and ‘MPG’. I can imagine that the average user of Carwow is familiar with these terms, but it would nevertheless be good to make the experience as intuitive and self-explanatory as possible. Finally, I enter my post code so that I can start receiving offers from local dealers (see Fig. 7 below).
  6. How easy to use was the site? – Very easy. ‘Assembling’ the car that I wanted to receive offers for was very quick and easy. I felt that the progress bar (showing the steps from model to compare offers) could be a little clearer and appear more consistently throughout the process. Apart from those minor things, I was clear on the process and its outcomes.
  7. How did I feel while exploring the site? – Soon after submitting my request for dealer offers, I got access to my personal Carwow dashboard (see Fig. 8 below). This, I felt, is the best bit of Carwow. With a clear design and just the right amount of information, it’s easy to view and compare the different dealers’ offers (see Fig. 9 below). I always find it very reassuring to see that there’s a customer support chat function, which I promptly used to ask some specific questions in relation to one of the offers (see Fig. 10 below). The only suggestion I’d make is to create a simple comparison table, which outlines and scores the different offers based on: customer feedback, service guarantee, discounts, delivery time, etc. That way, I could compare offers at a glance.
  8. How does this site compare to similar sites? – Most car broker and comparison sites don’t seem to be as user-centric as Carwow. One can see from the examples in Fig. 11-12 below that these sites purely enable to the customer to compare models or prices, but provide limited opportunity for the user to indicate features and other preferences. Dealer information is the other main aspect which seems lacking. Once I’ve compared models or prices, there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to access offers from local dealers or to get a sense of how reliable the different dealers are. In contrast, Carwow’s proposition is all about dealers “giving their best price on the cars you want” and “buying direct from a main UK dealer with reviews from previous buyers”.
  9. Did the site deliver on my expectations? – Yes, no doubt about it. Carwow provided a clear price comparison and useful dealer information. From the signup process to the offer comparison via the Carwow dashboard, it all felt very intuitive and transparent. The product person in me thought of some simple new features or improvements to add, but the site as is already delivers on its key promise: “Experience new car buying without any of the hassle or uncertainty”.

 Fig. 1 – Screenshot of the homepage on http://www.carwow.co.uk/ :

Carwow1

Fig. 2 – Suggestions for alternative copy regarding the key benefits of using Carwow:

“With Carwow, you decide what your dream car looks like (and what it costs)”

“Avoid having to haggle for your new car with the help of Carwow”

“The easiest and most transparent way of comparing car prices and features”

Fig. 3 – Choose a car and a make on Carwow:

Choose a car

Choose makeFig. 4 – Select a model. engine and gearbox on a Carwow:

Choose model

Choose model 2

 

Engine

Fig. 5 – Select a model that I want to receive offers for through Carwow:

Select a modelFig. 6 – Choose a colour and any extra features through Carwow, followed by a recommended retail price:

Colour

Options

Fig. 7 – Entering my post code on Carwow to receive offers from local dealers:

Post code

 

Send email

How it works 1

Fig. 8 – Screenshot of my Carwow dashboard with offers received:

Dashboard

Fig. 9 – Screenshot of “Offer A” received:

Offer A

Fig. 10 – Customer support chat on Carwow:

Customer support

Fig. 11 – Screenshot car comparison on http://www.whatcar.com/:

Whatcar

Fig. 12 – Screenshot of http://www.broker4cars.co.uk/:

Brokers

Fig. 13 – Screenshot of Carwow email:

Email

 

Related links for further learning:

  1. http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/23/carwow/
  2. http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/14/carwow-fuel-injection/
  3. http://www.creativebloq.com/web-design/parallax-scrolling-1131762
  4. http://www.crunchbase.com/organization/carwow
  5. http://www.balderton.com/news/-zoopla-for-cars-carwow-raises-seed-investment-from-balderton-capital-alex-chesterman-598
  6. http://www.smarta.com/blog/2014/9/60-second-start-up-carwowcouk/
  7. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/01/11/young-entrepreneur-carwow-james-hind
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