José Antonio Ramírez
Director General of

Embrace Digitalization or Die Trying

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 09:37

Digital sales are gaining ground in both the new and used vehicle segments and José Antonio Ramírez, Director General of, believes dealership groups that cling to traditional marketing practices face an imminent risk. “It is crucial for dealership groups to start taking digitalization seriously,” he says. “Companies tend to think that when clients go to the dealership and ask for a specific model, that is when they are really interested in buying a car. However, the digital lead is equally important and we have tried to explain its importance to all our collaborators.”
According to the E-Commerce Research of 2017 published by the Mexican Association of Online Sales, the market value of online sales grew 28.3 percent in 2016, representing approximately US$17.63 billion. Furthermore, the research showed that 75 percent of all Internet users made an online purchase during 3Q17. Although Ramírez does not think it is plausible for automakers to sell their vehicles directly online, digitalization is permeating the new vehicle segment as more and more brands build customization platforms into their websites. “The car will always be delivered by a third party but eventually, I see clients paying for their vehicle online,” he says. “AMDA members must find a way to remain true to their business while looking for new and better ways to help the client order a car online.”
As a leading platform for online vehicle sales, has strived to help its dealership and OEM partners understand the value of the digital market and how best to address it. “As a company with a strong digital background, we have a responsibility to train our peers and professionalize digital and lead management operations,” says Ramírez. He says companies must analyze each digital lead and the opportunity it can present to attract a new client. “If the customer is already asking something too technical, they are probably already hooked,” he says. “Meanwhile, if they are asking more general questions, the company has an opportunity to engage and create loyalty in a new client.” has experience in both new and used vehicle sales, and manages approximately 75 percent of the total real car listings in Mexico. Unlike companies such as Segundamano or Mercado Libre that have a more horizontal approach with a wider product-type portfolio, has a sole focus on car sales. The company’s goal has been to devise the best strategies so clients can sell their vehicles quickly and its services and technology have been key in that process. In Australia, Ramírez says, soloautos can determine the time it will take a person to sell their vehicle based on its mileage. Similarly, for clients who do not want to share their phone number, soloautos can provide an alternative number that connects to their cell phone. “We expect to keep innovating and bringing new technologies to our Latin American operations,” he says.
The company has also grown its presence in Mexico after acquiring a review platform called Autología in 2016, which gives access to an audience looking to compare different vehicle models according to advantages and disadvantages. “Not only has this helped us attract more clients but it has also helped us support future vehicle owners during their decision-making process,” says Ramírez. The number of people selling their vehicle through grew by 100 percent in 2017 and Ramírez expects to grow another 100 percent in 2018, which would represent growth in revenue of 250 percent.
Ramírez says has potential in both the new and used vehicle segment, but he sees the best opportunity in the advertising opportunities the platform can offer to OEMs. “Dealership groups used to have areas of influence but digitalization has broken all barriers,” he says. “Companies can now cover a much wider region, which will lead to more business opportunities but also more risks for players that do not embrace this new trend.” The company builds specialized campaigns based on the product and the market it wants to reach, and then offers them directly to automakers. “We do not charge for this service, only for its positioning on our webpage,” Ramírez says. “Companies that base their marketing strategy only on traditional channels are at risk of losing even long-standing and faithful clients.”