When it comes to business inefficiencies, technology holds a search-and-destroy quality. Google devastated encyclopedias. Amazon pummeled bookstores. Digital photography walloped Kodak.
And now Autotrader.com is aiming a giant tech missile at the automotive marketplace.
“We think we’re in the dawn of a new era,” CEO Chip Perry told me a few days ago.
Chip and I spoke as we were prepping for his presentation March 4 at our 2013 Local Online Advertising Conference. (See agenda here.) The last time he addressed our conference, the audience was enthralled by Autotrader’s mediamorphosis from a parent company that published hundreds of Auto Trader books in the 1990s to an all-online business today. Chip’s 2010 presentation remains the most-downloaded of the 100+ we’ve had over the years. It’s an amazing story.
This time, he’s got a different story to tell when he takes the stage. It’s the story of how Autotrader aims to close the time gap between the moment when car buyers finish researching online, shut down their PCs, and head to a dealership to make the purchase.
“Autotrader has been a disruptor for 15 years,” he said, “but the biggest wave of disruption in the auto industry is still to come. If you can enable people to actually shop for cars – to buy them from home – that’s huge. When you can enable marketers to much more surgically target prospects, that’s huge.”
What Chip is talking about is becoming the Amazon.com of the auto industry, where the technology studies shopping habits, improves the buying process, and optimizes prices for the consumer.