El­bow­ing Out the Used-car Sales­man

E-com­merce ▶ On Vroom’s web­site, there’s no hag­gling and ship­ping is free ▶ “We have to make sure the car is amaz­ing”

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Focus On/mid-market -

About a year ago, vi­o­lent storms hit the Hous­ton area. When the flood­wa­ters re­ceded, Vroom, an on­line seller of used cars, dis­cov­ered it had lost more than 100 ve­hi­cles, equal to about $3 mil­lion in sales. It was a re­minder that the two-year-old Web startup faces some of the same chal­lenges as a brickand-mor­tar re­tailer.

Vroom is one of sev­eral com­pa­nies seek­ing to con­sol­i­date the frag­mented used-car mar­ket. But un­like ri­vals Beepi, Shift Tech­nolo­gies, and Car­vana, which mostly con­nect buy­ers and sell­ers via on­line mar­ket­places, New York-based Vroom buys all of its cars, then re­fur­bishes and guar­an­tees them—much the way a tra­di­tional dealer does.

Al­lon Bloch, the for­mer ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist who runs Vroom, says many Amer­i­cans who are happy snap­ping up a $10 shirt on­line re­main leery about go­ing there to buy a car, typ­i­cally the sec­ond-big­gest pur­chase af­ter a home. “If a con­sumer spends tens of thou­sands of dol­lars on a car that they’ll use for many hours ev­ery week and may own for years, we have to make sure the car is amaz­ing both

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