WHEEL­ERS: LE­BANON’S VIR­TUAL CAR SHOW­ROOM

AN ON­LINE TOOL FOR BUY­ERS

Executive Magazine - - Executive Life - Words by Olga Habre

with a plethora of di er­ent mod­els on the mar­ket these days it is o en di icult to make an in­formed choice about which car to buy. En­ter Wheel­ers, an on­line plat­form that helps con­sumers make bet­ter car-pur­chas­ing de­ci­sions based on their bud­get, nanc­ing op­tions, and life­styles. Ta­tiana Hage, who heads the pro ect, ex­plains that buy­ing a car is very much an in­di­vid­ual de­ci­sion and Wheel­ers makes it eas­ier to si through the avail­able op­tions to nd the right one.

The web­site fea­tures a com­pre­hen­sive data­base of au­to­mo­tive brands avail­able in Le­banon. Users can browse cars ac­cord­ing to var­i­ous cri­te­ria. For many buy­ers, bud­get is the main con­straint, while oth­ers are look­ing for a speci c body type that suits their life­style or per­sonal pref­er­ence SUVs, hatch­backs, or con­vert­ibles. A new fea­ture that was added in the last few months lets users lter based on how much they can a ord to al­lo­cate on a down pay­ment, what they can pay monthly, and which bank they pre­fer to work with, gen­er­at­ing a list of car op­tions for their nanc­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Try­ing to be as user-friendly as pos­si­ble, the team be­hind Wheel­ers also has a tool that lets cus­tomers com­pare up to three mod­els side by side, high­light­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties in green and di er­ences in red.

For car buy­ers, the on­line show­room is a helpful tool. It min­i­mizes the role of sales­peo­ple and shi s power to con­sumers, em­pow­er­ing them so that by the time they en­ter a phys­i­cal show­room, they know the right ques­tions to ask that will guide them to the right ve­hi­cle.

On the ip side, it can also be helpful for au­tomo- tive deal­ers and even banks that o er car loans. While Wheel­ers, which cur­rently has 100,000 monthly users in Le­banon, is still de­vel­op­ing its system, the ul­ti­mate idea is to gen­er­ate a pro t from client leads. That means for ev­ery se­ri­ous cus­tomer that makes his or her way to a dealer via the web­site, Wheel­ers gets a cut. They are cur­rently us­ing a Cus­tomer Re­la­tion­ship Man­age­ment CRM ap­proach to call po­ten­tial clients that re­quest test drives and grade them on a scale of how se­ri­ous they re­ally are about pur­chas­ing a car. Ac­cord­ing to Hage, about 0- 0 per­cent of those who shop on Wheel­ers are also seek­ing car nanc­ing, so a sim­i­lar system is be­ing developed for clients sent to banks for loans. The phone call feed­back also helps gather in­for­ma­tion about how deal­ers can im­prove their ser­vices.

Hage says the site will not o er a peer-to-peer used-car mar­ket­place but they are al­ready de­vel­op­ing a sec­tion for certi ed pre-owned cars that are part of most new car deal­er­ships. There are some chal­lenges with up­dat­ing in­ven­to­ries, as there is a high turnover for these types of cars, but Wheel­ers fa­cil­i­tates data en­try for the deal­ers and most are cooperating.

Hage ex­plains that the site is cur­rently geared to­ward the Le­banese mar­ket, but they have al­ready be­gun work in Dubai, and are look­ing to ex­pand to Saudi Ara­bia next. Le­banon has po­ten­tial but it’s a re­ally small mar­ket ap­prox­i­mately 3 ,000 cars are sold here an­nu­ally. In the UAE its 2 0,000 and in Saudi Ara­bia its 50,000, and es­pe­cially now that women will have the right to drive, it will in­crease,” Hage says.

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