Gumtree, South Africa’s leading online classifieds site, has once again raised the bar with a virtual showroom facility for automotive dealers that makes listing and searching for cars as easy and compelling as the iconic Web site itself.
To launch and head up the new venture, Gumtree recruited motor industry doyen Jeff Osborne. Credited with turning around the Retail Motor Industry Organisation, Osborne says the competitively priced platform is expected to rev up online buying activity in the motor industry.

Gumtree’s credentials, performance and the size of the market give the company every reason to believe the new service will attract car dealers in numbers, he explains.

“With 400 000 car searches and 150 000 vehicle listings every month, Gumtree is the biggest virtual car showroom in the country. Offering uniquely South African listings, the Gumtree brand enjoys powerful recognition with 99% brand awareness as well as the backing of a global behemoth since our acquisition by eBay in 2005,” he says.

The opportunity is significant for everyone concerned, he continues. “There are around 1 400 franchise dealerships in the market and another 3 000 used car outlets.”

An agile, innovative company in the mould of other tech giants, Gumtree leverages the convenience, functionality and information richness of the Web to hyper-charge its value proposition.

“We assessed the market and our own business and saw room for improvement,” says Osborne. “Our free car listing facility only catered for individual uploads, and yet, a significant number of our users are dealers. The time for bulk uploads is now. We think first movers will get a lot of traction and offer dealers and consumers a massive advantage.”

The site comes with a number of advantages over its competitors. A central part of the Gumtree value proposition is that it allows users to refresh (edit) their listings each day, which ‘bumps them up’ in search results.

A “showroom window” at the top of search returns shows off top listings to their best advantage. And Gumtree offers a management-reporting tool that shows sales performance-related variables of listings and administration, such as frequency and type of use by sales agents, making it an all-inclusive business-to-consumer sales tool that completely changes the online dealer experience.

As print car classified listings wane, Gumtree’s virtual showroom platform comes into a market with competition from other websites, but none that take full advantage of the Web’s potential or the clout of Gumtree’s massive car buying audience.

“We continue to be the best and biggest online classified sales in all our categories, with easy-to-use tools to list and find the right car, bringing dealers the highest number of sales and sales leads in the industry,” he says. “We achieve this by investing in marketing to attract customers to our site, staying close to our community and constantly enhancing the site experience.