How Auto Sales Are Driving New Retail Trends

The longstanding practice of selling automobiles is getting a change — reflecting larger trends in commerce.

For instance, online marketplace and auction site eBay has released eBay Motors, a new app that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to list a car in under five minutes, according to a report by The Verge. The app is a replacement for the previous eBay Motors app, which was discontinued in 2015, and it’s available in the U.S. for both iOS and Android.

A customer can begin the process of selling a car by taking a picture of the vehicle’s license plate, which will automatically pull up information on the car, such as make, VIN and model. The user can then upload photos or videos about the car right into the app, and the app will automatically sort them into different categories, like interior, exterior and engine or drivetrain.

This is the first time eBay has allowed direct video uploads, and the company thinks it will help to drive sales. If photos are well organized, eBay says, it helps people trust the listing. It also says that its platform and algorithms have a 95 percent accuracy rate and were built with Firebase, a Google platform.

The Motors app will also have a personalized homepage and advanced filtering and search tools.

The online marketplace company wants to eventually be able to use AI technology on descriptions, where a user could give basic details and the AI would flesh out the description.

New Financing

Financing is also part of the new wave of innovation in this area.

Carvana, the company that lets consumers browse and purchase vehicles online, has added a new virtual financing option, according to reports.

The company has teamed up with Regions Bank to provide the possibility of virtual loans to consumers in Texas, the South and the Midwest. When someone goes to the auto center section of the Regions Bank website, they’ll be routed to a new, co-branded site from the two companies.

From there, potential buyers can browse the over 15,000 cars in stock, trade in their own vehicles or get financing from Regions Bank if they qualify. Customers can also make arrangements for pickup or delivery right away — even the next day. Every aspect of the process can be done from a computer, phone or tablet.

“The ways people search for and purchase a vehicle continue to change,” said Tom Lazenby, auto lending manager for Regions Bank. “Carvana, like Regions, is a company that is on the leading edge in terms of simplifying the purchasing process and doing it with reliability, transparency and a focus on putting the customer first.”

Carvana also has large glass towers called “car vending machines” where a customer can go pick up a car themselves. Once they get to the area, a customer helper will give the customer a large carvana coin that will retrieve the car.

There are car vending machines in 21 cities in the U.S., and Carvana has next-day delivery in 146 markets. Every vehicle comes with a seven-day return agreement.

Subscription Commerce

Subscriptions, too, are playing a bigger role.

Luxury automakers are test driving new business models: Audi has announced a pilot program dubbed Audi Select that allows customers to borrow from a small selection of vehicles. The service, which made its first appearance in five Dallas-Fort Worth area dealerships, gives customers access to a variety of vehicle types, from sedans and coupes to convertibles and crossovers.

The automotive ecosystem is undergoing historic changes — and those are some of the main trends in play for 2020.