Used-car lots still thrive despite online listings

Posted at 01/19/14 8:24 PM

MANILA -- With the rise in online classified ads, sellers of second-hand vehicles have found a convenient platform to reach a wide market but surprisingly this trend has not negatively affected brick-and-mortar used-car lots.

Before the Internet, Filipinos looking to buy a vehicle would have to either visit a showroom or browse through ads in newspapers.

These days, however, buyers can just go to websites like sulit.com.ph and ayosdito.ph and look for their dream car. Sellers, on the other hand, can easily advertise their vehicles without having to pay high advertising rates in newspapers.

Ariel Malli, co-tenant of Auto Express, which sells used vehicles in Pasig, however, denied that their business had been hurt by the growing number of Internet sites that lists second-hand cars for sale. In fact, he said sales have actually increased as more people are visiting his lot -- thanks also to online advertising.

“Aside sa walk-in, mas may pumupunta dahil sa online. If you compare, minsan 60 percent (find out about the business from the) Internet, 40 percent are walk-ins. Minsan bumabaliktad,” he told ABS-CBNnews.com.

Auto Express opened in 2007 and began advertising online a year later. And while Malli stressed that their ad budget is far lower than those of the competitors, he said they managed to keep up with the competition.

“Malaking bagay sa addition sa sales (ang Internet ads). 'Yung showroom is more on magkaroon lang ng puwesto,” he explained.

Malli stressed that it is important to take care of both online customers as well as showroom clients. Although he warned of bogus buyers on the Internet, he said it is still crucial to reply to inquiries online.

Lloyd Ugarte, a marketing professional from Toyota Quezon Avenue, shared the same sentiment. He said most of his current clients found him through online advertisements.

“With online promotions, mas may advantage. I think outside the box... tapos babawi sa showroom,” he said.

Through web promotions, he said he has been able to find buyers from outside Metro Manila.

“You can communicate to buyers outside Metro Manila. Provincial customers are also looking for the best deal,” he said.

Malli noted that today's car buyers have become more knowledgeable given the amount of information available on the Internet. Moreover, they have also become proficient in haggling to get the best deal.

An anonymous car buyer explained that she still bases her asking price on the market value of the vehicle, which are also readily available. “Sa online kasi, minsan mas mahal pa 'yung price compared sa mga may showroom,” she noted.

But for Robert Ronquillo, assistant marketing manager of Shark Philippines Car Accessories, one of the advantages of online classifieds is that you often deal directly with the car's owner.

“Ngayon kasi parang its easier to find the direct owner through online sales. Direct owner equates to better quality cars,” he said. “Dati kasi pahirapan bumili ng good quality cars. Ngayon, sobrang even na ng playing field sa buying and selling cars dahil sa online selling.”