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How Dennis achieved success selling cars

Pete Wootoon ()

Up until recently most digital publishers have relied on display advertising or perhaps subscriptions for their revenue streams. And while many have dipped their toe in the water of ecommerce, few have actually achieved what Dennis has achieved with its website dedicated to selling high ticket items like cars. 

Bought at the end of the December 2014, BuyaCar it was partly born out of the frustration that Dennis Managing Director Pete Wootton felt at buying a car from a dealer.

“I had a really negative experience from a car dealer so I bought my car from BuyaCar and had a great experience,” he explained to the audience at the 41st FIPP World Congress in London on Tuesday.

Jokingly comparing himself to Victor Kiam, the businessman who loved Remington razors so much he bought the company, Wootton explained that BuyaCar is aimed at the increasing number of people who are prepared to buy a car online. He says this number has doubled in the last few years. “We are dealing with digital natives who buy everything online so why not a car?” reckons Wootton.

Rather than having to go into a dealer to buy a car in person, which can be a stressful proposition, especially for those who don’t like to negotiate on price, BuyaCar delivers the car directly to the buyer’s house. “The first time they see it is when it arrives in the driveway,” explains Wootton. And while a minority of buyers may be unhappy if the car isn’t as spotlessly clean as they hoped, BuyaCar’s offer of a free valeting service usually gets buyers leaving great feedback for the service (BuyaCar has a five star rating on TrustPilot).

Whereas people usually only travel a maximum of 50 miles to buy a car from a dealer, with BuyaCar the car is on average delivered from a distance of 197 miles. This perhaps explains why the Postcode button on the website doesn’t actually serve any purpose – other than to tell buyers they don’t have to worry about where the car is because it will be delivered directly to them!

When Dennis bought BuyaCar, its revenue was just £400,000 a year, employing five staff from its west London office. Since being bought by Dennis Publishing turnover has rocketed to £3 million in September alone and continues to grow.

This is partly due to a major redesign of the website but is also because Dennis has been able to plug a widget from BuyaCar into its network of car titles, including AutoExpress, Carbuyer.co.uk and Evo.

Car sales from the Dennis websites currently amount for around 10% of revenue with many people coming to the website through specialist search terms such as car finance. Indeed, loans for cars account for a large part of BuyaCar’s business with the business making £170,00 commissions on finance deals in September.

So what next for BuyaCar? It is now looking to work directly with car manufacturers as well as looking to licence its technology in other key verticals.

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