Maybe the next online market to take off will be car-buying websites. Already, such sites as Edmunds.com and AutoTrader.com make it easy to determine used and new car prices and locate local deals.
TrueCar, an online provider of price information that reports what others actually paid for the identically equipped new car over the last 30 days, works with a nationwide network of some 5,000 Certified Dealers who provide competitive pricing for membership and service organizations.
Now TrueCar is taking part in a partnership with GR Match, an affiliate of direct marketing giant Guthy-Renker, who will make a significant equity investment in TrueCar.
Through Guthy-Renker's expertise, TrueCar will give "millions more Americans access to truthful, transparent, upfront prices and a no-hassle car buying experience," according to TrueCar's press release.
While TrueCar has already helped more than 250,000 consumers with their auto purchases, the Guthy-Renker partnership will allow the service to be made more broadly available through the use of targeting, messaging and network strategies. TrueCar's brand visibility will eventually extend beyond the online world into television, print, radio and other advertising channels.
TrueCar says traditional competitors such as Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds provide information "but have never provided the kind of transparency, accuracy or context of the unbiased data provided by TruCar.
Bernie Brenner, Chief Strategy Officer for TrueCar, says that the Guthy-Renker relationship will allow TrueCar to give "every car buyer in the United States... a fair deal and a positive experience at the dealership. It starts with the power of information and continues with real upfront pricing. We are changing the game for both the dealer and the consumer.
Selling cars via the Internet has indeed become a hot market. In addition to specialized car-related websites like TrueCar, auction sites like eBay have seen a growth market in selling used cars. Even the U.K.'s Tesco, a major supermarket chain that has reinvented itself to be a general merchandise retailer, just opened a used car website, rebranding carsite.co.uk as TescoCars.com.
Clearly, Tesco is looking for a piece of the 24-billion pound used car market in Great Britain. Tesco shoppers can use the site to search some 3,000 cars each week, and they'll even get Tesco Clubcard points for buying a car from the site.
Puts a whole new spin on the concept of the "test drive."