Covid-19 has been bad for the economy. Companies of all sizes are struggling to get their business back on track. Companies that are able to innovate and make quick adjustments in their business models will be the ones to survive (or even grow!); while others will be forced to cut salaries and jobs. While there are 100 other factors at play, the one thing that influences your (and your company’s) fate during such a crisis, is how you approach the crisis.
Every crisis is an opportunity. Be bold.
Cars24 is in the business of making the car selling and buying experience better for the customers and partners( dealer network). Our strengths are our people, our distribution network, and our technology-driven super-efficient operations. A crisis like Covid-19 affects all these three areas.
We were prepared – There were signals all around us. China and half of Europe were going into lockdown. There were cases showing up in multiple states in India. It was only a matter of days till cities in India would be in lockdown. We had 3000+ employees working from over 250 offices and 2 weeks before lockdown, we ensured that each of these employees had the resources and support to work from home!
Maximized inputs – Our teams realised early on in the lockdown that this was the best time to connect with both customers and partners as everyone was staying at home and had a lot of time on their hands. We were able to make personal connections with over a million current and potential customers. As soon as the markets opened, all these connections started translating into customers.
Trained like anything – You learn the most when you are at peace. And this was the only time in 5 years when our teams were away from the daily hustle. Our learning and development team did their magic and our teams had over 100,000+ hours of collective learning. Less than 2 months of lockdown has advanced every Cars24 employee to their 2.0 version.
Technology innovations – Our technology and product teams picked all the Wishlist projects and worked twice as hard to build better infra, improve business efficiencies, strengthen our commitment to the customer and partner experience, and set up new business lines.
Business innovations – Feels like magic but in this 2 month period, we were able to launch 7 new business lines. We launched Cars24 Bazaar (B2B marketplace), Cars24 franchise, Consumer self-listing, Instant financing support to partners, Home inspection business, and entry to the two-wheeler segment with bike buying and selling business.
After three and a half years of leading the Cars24 Business Strategy & Analytics team, I got a chance to try my hands on core business operations by setting up the bikes vertical from scratch. It’s been a little over 3 months and the experience has been a roller-coaster ride.
Pre-lockdown preparations – The first discussion for this business happened in the 1st week of March. The idea of launching a new business itself was a big bold bet because by that time the country had multiple Covid-19 confirmed cases in multiple states and an impending lockdown. So, we had a little over 2 weeks to understand on-ground around how pre-owned bike transactions were happening in the unorganized market and what were the key areas where Cars24 could add value to significantly improve the customer and partner experience.
The lockdown – While lockdown was a necessity, and everyone expected it, every business wanted it to start late and get over quickly. The Bikes team was ready to pilot in mid-April, but now we had to change the timelines. We now had time to re-think scale and do things in a much better way than the initially planned pilot.
Opportunities and execution – Same as the car business, we used the lockdown period to generate both demand and supply. We built a strong channel partner network in the top 20 cities, trained people in every city for the bike business, generated a database of potential customer leads, and developed MVPs of products required to start efficient operations so that we could launch in any city where lockdown relaxations allowed. Basically, sitting at home, we were ready for a big bang launch!
Launch on day 1 – On 4th May, the Delhi government allowed partial movements and we did our first bike inspection. The team was well prepared and they closed their first transaction on the very first day of launch. This was a big confidence booster and since then there have been relentless improvements in processes, products, and policies. 50 days into the business and we have sold over 150 bikes. Acceptance of our business in this crisis time is a testament to the great value add and quality service we provide to our customers and channel partners.
A new way of buying and selling bikes in the Covid-19 era
Safety standards deployed by Cars24 have been well received by our customers and that is the reason Cars24 businesses are already close to 100% recovery. We truly believe there is a need for technological advancements in the two-wheeler selling experience. With Cars24’s current reach of 200+ branches across India, we believe we have the power to change and organize the used two-wheeler industry by offering trust & transparency to our customers through technology and a safe environment.
We have really aggressive plans to make our services available super quick to as many two-wheeler sellers and buyers as possible and in as many cities as possible. Started from Delhi NCR, we plan to be operational in the top 15 cities in India by end of this year doing over 3000 two-wheeler transactions per month.