An IIT-Delhi alumnus, Niraj Singh is a serial entrepreneur and CEO and Founder of Spinny , a full stack car buying platform for the young Indian.
Agency Reporter – With consumers likely to go for a personal vehicle rather than travel by public transport, demand for personal vehicles is going up. Even though lock down has affected the purchasing power of the people, how do you see this as an opportunity for used car business?
Young India is gearing up against the odds to fuel the economy. During these uncertain times, owning a car is considered as the safest way of personal mobility. And, the liquidity crunch is shifting the demand towards pre-owned cars. Exceptional levels of precautions are as much a business requirement as a personal requirement. Personal cars would be a must-have for a household and provide the confidence to work with this ‘new normal’
We are seeing this as an opportunity – being a full stack retail platform, it’s our responsibility to set industry standards in zero contact processes with extra care.
The customer recognizes this and we’re witnessing a sharp increase in inquiries of Home Test Drives. We are not advising people to visit our car hubs and are recommending home test drives. In spite of that, within just two weeks of resuming operations last month, Bangalore is already at 70-80 percent of pre-Covid volumes while Delhi and Gurgaon are at 50 percent.
From Bengaluru, Gurgaon, Hyderabad and Delhi, we’ve managed to sell 1000+ cars during since lockdown 4.0. Surprisingly, the demand is more or less similar to the pre-Covid days with maximum consumer interest coming in for the Rs 300,000-400,000 and Rs 400,000-600,000 price bracket. While our core focus is on the mass-market cars, however, beyond Rs 800,000 the demand has completely vanished.
AR – Spinny had been existing in an online+offline ecosystem ,on ground what has been the impact on the business like yours during lock down?
Our clear focus would be to ensure safety of the customers as well as our employees. We would be concentrating on home test drives and home deliveries. This pandemic is going to change consumer behaviour for good. We would keep the operations and execution lean – to cater to any new developments that are desired from the market. The sole effort would be to keep raising standards in safety, hygiene and contactless buying experiences, while offering the expected ‘Spinny delight’ to our customers. As the situation of the county returns to normal, we would evaluate venturing to newer cities as per the existing plans – however, our retail experience could see developments owing to the positive customer response on Home Test drives and deliveries.
Expansions to new cities have been postponed to focus on going deeper and perfecting the initiatives that are required to deliver a safe experience.
AR – Social distancing will be a major factor in the shift towards private vehicles in the post-Covid-19 world. What are the safety and sanitation measures in place for delivery of the cars?
In these uncertain times, we were the first ones to adopt to a completely contactless car buying and selling experience with our initiative #WithExtraCare facilitating home test drives and home delivery.
It’s equally important for our employees and the on-ground members of the squad to feel safe as much as customers.
The first step is to choose from 1200+ fully inspected, pre-owned cars (2012 make or newer) listed online. One opts for a virtual to make a more informed decision. Following this, the customer books a Home Test Drive of a fully sanitised car that comes with a safety kit for the customer. The final step involves uploading the required documents and payment details. Once the payment for the Spinny Assured car is processed, the car will be delivered at your doorstep with ‘no questions asked 5 Day money back guarantee’.
AR – In a world where lockdowns and distance norms are becoming commonplace Pre-owned cars could be the flavor of the post-Covid-19 world. How have you leveraged on the digitization of pre-owned car business?
Technology and digitisation is at the helm of every process from Inventory Procurement to Delivery. The backend technology coupled with retail experience enables Spinny to deliver a completely zero contact experience. The full stack platform capabilities allows us the agility to move to a completely digital experience. With Covid-19, it’s up to the industry to execute strict protocols and curate experiences that have customer safety as the top priority.
Internal and external processes are digitally automated that requires minimal in-person human interaction to help us maintain high safety standards to deliver a contactless buying & selling experience.
- Real-time inventory updates on the website managed through in-house CRM to facilitate easier discovery.
- Automated processes from procurement to curation to listing the car on the website with HD images
- Inventory availability management to allow digital scheduling of test drives as per customer’s convenience e.g. A customer in Delhi has access to all cars available across and the back-end can ensure that a customer gets an exact time for the test drive.
- Digital documents collection and processing with online payment methods for EMI and down-payment
- The listing of the cars is central and the physical cars are marked based on the location of the retail outlet ‘Spinny Car hub’ (functioning as deep sanitisation zones now) across the city. This enables the customers and the employees to have a clear view of all the inventory in a city and we can facilitate a solid choice of cars for every customer. Any update on any car is reflected on the centralised system where each member of the team has a clear visibility of what’s happening at any given time
- Employee training modules are online and up-to dated on the employee app, that allows for consistent training leading to a typical ‘Spinny’ experience.
AR – What is the fixed price assurance feature, kindly elaborate and help us understand the customer reviews and feedback on this unique feature?
In used cars, neither the input or the output is fixed, it’s difficult for buyers to gauge the price. Spinny has addressed this challenge through its ‘Fixed Price Assurance’. Having entered the preowned car market to earn the trust of customers by offering quality cars and through transparency in transactions, Spinny has already earned the trust of 10,000-plus customers. Backed by a full-stack model, Spinny drives its business for meeting the needs of customers via multiple benefits. For example, there is no salesman margin or dealer commission since Spinny owns the inventory. Thereby, cost benefits are passed on to customers without compromising on car quality. In calculating a fair price that customers can trust, Spinny uses pricing data from all market transactions and the car’s 200-point inspection report. In this way, customers get the best price for a car without negotiating.
Spinny’s star price engine is constantly updated with data from thousands of used car transactions to arrive at the most accurate fixed & fair prices for our customers. Spinny is the first preowned car entity in India to implement this measure, despite negotiations being a traditional norm in the auto industry. Spinny takes responsibility for a fair price because if the offered price is not competitive enough, there’s a risk of losing customers, but Spinny is confident of its pricing and the quality of the car that they are providing.
- Removes the need to check prices at different websites
- Pricing engine constantly updated with recent market transactions and demand-supply trends
- Takes into account the vehicles’ inspection report
- Fair & fixed prices for real savings
- Removes the need for negotiation, hence making the transaction simpler and efficient
“The prices have been kept fixed, as they’re already the best prices the customers can get.”
AR – With “environment-friendly” becoming the buzzword of late, the prospects of Electric Vehicles cannot be ruled out completely! Are EV’s the new way ahead?
We are excited about the foreseeable future of electric vehicles. Used cars are a reflection of the cars that society prefers and condiers practical in the long run. Apart from the obvious infrastructure developments that need to take place in terms of fueling stations and learnings of the market to maintain an EV for a long run, it’s a matter of customer acceptance. We are certain, urban cities would lead this charge and set an example. Concerns on air quality and effects of health would only keep getting stronger. Electric vehicles would bring in a set of learnings that the industry would need to adopt.
‘’Being a car enthusiast, I am personally excited to experience electric cars as everyday personal vehicles. Electric technology, without a doubt, would be the biggest evolution in the automotive industry since diesel engines in cars.