SANTA MONICA, Calif. — This month, Edmunds.com will launch a new site designed around its Price Promise program, a move officials say will foster trust between consumers and its dealer partners. Under the program, Edmunds users will be able to select a vehicle with a locked-in, haggle-free price.
Unlike some other price-based programs available through third-party sites, Price Promise links the price to a specific stock and VIN number, company officials claimed. Once users select the vehicle they want, they will also receive contact information for specific personnel at the dealership.
“There is a tremendous amount of infrastructure at work, as well as business-to-business tooling that we've developed with our partners that enables them to actually hang an actual price on each and every piece of inventory that they choose,” explained President and COO Seth Berkowitz during a press conference on Oct. 3.
Berkowitz acknowledged that the company’s dealer partners initially approached the idea of posting a price online with wariness. But he said that Edmunds was able to “come up with a solution that made the consumers and dealers both happy.”
According to an internal study, Edmunds found that dealers who participated in the program realized a 60 percent increase in traceable contacts. The number of views of vehicle landing pages on the site also increased by 150 percent when dealers included the actual prices.
“In addition to that, we see faster sales through the Price Promise program, where the leads close 15 percent faster than normal,” Berkowitz said. “And they are still the sort of people who actually are closing their transactions as fast as two days after getting their certificates.”
Edmunds attracts 18 million visitors to its site each month, 64 percent of which are unique visits, according to the company. Additionally, the company’s advertising efforts have garnered 7 billion impressions over the course of 2013, and officials hope to add a billion more with the launch of a national advertising campaign on Christmas Day.
Berkowitz said this is only the first step of the company’s effort to refocus on improving the car-buying experience. He added that the Price Promise ecosystem will be expanded to include leases and used vehicles — both purchase and trade in — over the course of 2014.
“On average, dealers found that by associating themselves with us, by actually making a promise to the customers, that they've actually generated more business and had more opportunities through this program,” Berkowitz said.
“The car buying transaction is characterized by being a stressful, low trust atmosphere, and we thought that if we could partner with dealers, and insert ourselves into the process in a way to make it better for consumers, we could actually help all parties concerned. And that essentially has become our internal mission.”