Carvana was established in 2013 with backing from DriveTime and according to CrunchBase, they have secured $140M in funding. They deliver autos anywhere in the country (for a fee) and currently have locations in Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Nashville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Birmingham, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami.
Carvana has a distinct in-person experience, it is a vending machine where 20 cars can be stored. Once you buy a car on Carvana, you have the option of picking up the car at the vending machine. Upon arrival, you place a coin in the slot and watch your car travel through the vending machine.
Their pitch is simple from a marketing standpoint - I found this on their Facebook Account. They are attacking the car buying experience.
Their reviews are good online, but not seeing a lot of them. I do see some "influence marketing" going on with reviews, we'll see if it works.
Let's dive into Carvana's website
Above the Fold - Homepage
The visual you get when first arriving at Carvana is bold and they immediately are trying to help you along the car buying process with easy-to-use SEARCH functionality - search over 4100 cars. The tagline is immediately trying to differentiate them from the traditional way of doing things in the car biz - "A BETTER WAY TO BUY A CAR". Some subtle selling points under the tagline and a blue "HOW IT WORKS" link to help educate the consumer on how they do business.
Biggest Take Away: Clutter-free, it has a "let's get this process rolling type of feel", doesn't have motion background and is easy to understand.
How it works link
When you click on the "How It Works" link, you end up at a page detailing the steps in the Carvana process. It is simple without a lot of detail, I personally would like more detail.
Step 1 Carvana talks about their certified process, well not really but they give a brief blurb about it. If you notice on the right side they list a testimonial trying to relieve shopper anxiety - that's a big plus.
Step 2 The virtual tour is highlighted, and I mean a brief highlight. Again, adding another testimonial to the right hoping to relieve more of the shoppers anxiety to purchase. Another thing to note that I like A LOT is mentioning that they highlight the imperfections too. Transparency goes a long way in digital. (the word transparency is also getting over-used in digital and losing some of it's luster)
Step 3 I do think Carvana nails the right message here with their financing and trade-in process. It doesn't read like a dictionary and it hits on the key features that customers wonder about. They could have thrown in a blurb about security, but I'm sure they will re-adjust if a need appears.
Step 4 Explanation of Delivery or Pick Up is straight to the point. The testimonial is the winner on this section, great message for their process.
Step 5 7 Day money back guarantee, I believe this is what makes Carvana possible. This testimonial I found worthless.
If you instead started using the search functionality on the home page and ended up on a vehicle search results page, the options to search opens up.
Financing | sell or trade
When you pick the "Pick Your Payment" option, it takes you to a page that you can overview the process. The first section talks about Visibility and Control, they talk about a couch and other things that my 11 year old already knows about.
If you look further down the page, someone says they "Heart" Carvana... Really?? Loses a lot of credibility for me. I believe this page to be a waste of a page.
The next tab covers "How It Works". Here Carvana is showing off their tools in finding a payment. The tools are easy to use and I see this as a plus in their favor. They are still not trying to get a lead but give the shopper the option of starting the process.
The next label is "Shop Smarter". It's an attempt to convey to the shopper that Carvana is on their side. I see it as a good "sales ploy".
"Financing Options" is the last tab that lets the customer know what they probably already know. BUT, it is another attempt to get the shopper in the financing process.
When you click the Sell or Trade option instead of Pick Your Payment, it brings up the Cardian Angel. I love this page, they give you a REAL offer in 2 minutes. If anything at all, the customer is getting great information on the current car they own. Thumbs up on this part of the process.
Consumer Reviews on the Carvana Process
The next section of the home page touts they have over 2,400 reviews and video reviews you can sift through. Relieving shopper anxiety with insight from like-minded people (huge) and they have links to press about Carvana by many popular outlets. Simple, powerful and necessary. They DARE you to share their negative reviews - building authenticity with skeptics.
Carvana vs Dealer Pricing Comparison
Uh oh, somebody's drawing a line in the sand. This is a blatant attempt to devalue the dealership and re-enforce the idea that dealers screw customers. If Carvana becomes a player and has to show a profit, I'm sure the dealer body can educate the public on what goes into pricing a vehicle and if this is a fair comparison. 7 Day Test Own is strong.
Vehicle Description Page
Here we go, lets break this down.
Carvana starts their VDP out with a countdown to delivery (love it). This is where their virtual camera really comes into play, allowing you to look at the exterior, interior and under the hood. Zoom in and out while getting picture clarity that is second to none in the industry. They have a tab that really stands out - Feature & Imperfections List. Lets click it.
Here's the result, if you look you can see they describe passenger side scratches.
Besides the main pic that allows you to go over everything in and out of the vehicle, they supply a couple more photo's. I do have 1 beef. The pic's are TOO good, I believe the staging area takes it over the top. It doesn't come off as REAL to me, they're too good. I don't know if my brain would accept that this is the actual truck I would be getting. Pic quality is awesome, staging takes it too far for my personal taste.
After you've looked at the pics, Carvana attempts to start "Building the Deal". I love the visual and easy to follow along numbers. Again, no lead traps - they are trying to usher you along the process.
If you click on the "Get Started" button, you start out by starting an account. They label out clearly the steps in the purchase and throw in a little fact - "quickest purchase to date: 15 minutes and 36 seconds". I love the little quirky things they put on the site, building a personality for the company.
Below "Building The Deal" section on the VDP is the Similar Cars section. Typical and necessary for auto sites.
The Ratings & Reviews section is powered by Edmund's, but the main take away of this part in the VDP is that layout & feel MATTER.
Details & Specs on the VDP gives the info on the car like other automotive websites, but again, layout & feel MATTER.
From the VDP, you can start building a Garage, so let's do it. The following is where you start Building Your Garage. Not to intrusive and it gives you the ability to sign up using Facebook. Signing up using FB is becoming more and more popular, EASY.
Once you sign up, you get a pop-up showing how you get the car in your hands.
This is also the only time throughout the whole process a Live Chat Box popped up (out of the way in the upper left hand part of the page). CHAT BOXES ARE ANNOYING - you spend too much time avoiding them. Just give the shopper an option somewhere on the page, they'll find it if they want to use it.
Once you get past the pop-up, you arrive to the Garage. Carvana's garage feature has some great underlying features. First, you can save the vehicles of interest. Second, it gives them another chance for you to start the process. Thirdly, you have the ability to share with your friends on Facebook or by email to vote on which car they prefer for you. REALLY NEAT FEATURE of sharing, I'm sure a small segment may use this and if they do, it's Earned Media.
Carvana Certified Cars
Another path in the Carvana website is looking at the process Carvana goes through to certify their cars. The first tab is an overview with an explainer video.
The next tab briefly touches on the 150-point inspection and states none of their cars have been in an accident - lessening shopper anxiety.
The Confidence Tab is a direct shot at lessening shopper anxiety. BRAVO...
The last tab is a waste of space.
Overall Takeaways from Carvana
Positives to learn from:
The website is clean and easy to use. Look and feel mean something and they nailed it. Less is more, too many websites out there are information overload with crappy spacing.
The car descriptions are great, Carvana gets customer segmentation and they apply the right points to groups of buyers.
The experience of the Carvana website is about "starting a process". The consumer doesn't feel like the website is loaded with lead traps and annoying chat boxes. You feel if you give up personal information, it means something and it's not just an avenue to be solicited to. I think dealers need to find a way to "start the process".
Constant attempt to relieve shopper anxiety.
2 minute offer on your car.
I love the tools and technology. Their photo capabilities are the best I've seen. I love the use of sliders instead of inputting numbers.
I like the spacing on the website, not only the feel but the amount of info they gave.
Negatives I didn't like:
Even though I liked the amount of info they gave, I think they missed the mark on message half the time.
More pics outside of the 360* photo and the staging area was too much for me.
Most importantly, I'm not ready to buy a used car online. A video test drive would help get me closer but not sure if that is even enough. Something is missing and I can't put my finger on it.