The automotive world is changing rapidly due to technology and so is the business of selling used cars. As such, the online used car platform, Carsome, is positioning its business strategy to tap into the power of the latest tech trends to drive (no pun intended) business success.
With his recent appointment as the new Chief Data Officer at Carsome, we interviewed Piyush Palkar, as he shared his insights on how the company embeds a data culture in its business to support strategic decision-making, organisational efficiency and agility through data.
“As we aim to digitise Southeast Asia’s used car industry, being data-driven is the first step towards that,” said Piyush.
Carsome realises the importance of data, especially since data utilisation allows the company to improve customer experience via personalisation, customer segmentation and propensity models. Not only that, but data also brings value to the business in helping different stakeholders better understand their products to increase work efficiency and enhance timely, evidence-based decision-making abilities.
Since its inception, Carsome’s aim was to become more data-centric because there was no centralised nor systemised platform within the used car market. It was fragmented and marred by distrust due to the lack of transparency. Because of that, Carsome decided to provide a transparent and hassle-free service on its platform to address these industry pain points.
“With technology and our data capabilities, we are able to understand different user personas and their journey as a customer, and subsequently reshape and elevate their car buying and selling experience,” he explained.
Consumers are increasingly adopting an “online-first, online-only” approach for purchases, even for a traditional industry like the used car industry. To keep up with this trend, Carsome needed to revolutionise the industry by building a trusted used car industry and elevating consumer experience, powered with data. This led to the introduction of its very own data Centre of Excellence (“COE”).
Data Centre of Excellence (COE)
Carsome’s data COE allows the company to deliver a successful data strategy by establishing company-wide core data principles and best practices. It also boosts agility, reliability and efficiency, on top of providing more control and greater end-to-end visibility across the used car industry.
Piyush said, “Data helps us understand what core services are working well in operations and what product services we need to build. An exhaustive use of data in these verticals will help us achieve our growth objectives.”
He added that the establishment of the data COE also means that they will be focusing on solving major pain points of their customers across Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
As each market has its own unique challenges, the prime focus areas through the data COE will be centred around:
Robust vehicle acquisition and pricing decision support system.
AI-driven automation, which helps to improve operational efficiencies with car plate masking, self car inspection, etc.
Personalising buying experience catering to different customer personas.
“While we are using some open-source technologies and out-of-the-box solutions that are available with the cloud services we use, we are also open to trying new ones. On top of that, we have brought best-in-class business intelligence and MLOps tools and infrastructure to our work, which will further help us in achieving our goals and delivering results,” he explained.
But, what’s next for Carsome? Are they looking to collaborate with other players in the industry to further their data capabilities?
According to Piyush, they are looking at establishing a core foundation, democratising data to empower people with decision-making capabilities at all levels and constantly bringing data-powered innovative solutions for various departments within Carsome – such as marketing, operations, finance, business development, and others.
“Business strategy and data strategy go hand-in-hand; to accomplish our future goals, we need to be able to tackle this diligently and sharpen our efforts on planning data roadmaps,” he explained.
They also hope to line up partnerships that utilise data in its execution – such as the recently-announced collaboration with Aspirasi to offer data-backed digital financing solutions to used car dealers in Malaysia. The underwriting process by Aspirasi is based on Carsome’s data in credit scoring, pricing and structured financing, which directly shortens approval and disbursement turnaround time.
Aside from that, Carsome was recently announced as Malaysia's first technology unicorn as part of a share-swap deal in which the start-up will acquire a stake in iCar Asia. The proposed merger would combine iCar's car listing sites and Carsome's second-hand transaction platform in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. It would also make Carsome one of the most valuable marketplaces for second-hand cars in Southeast Asia.
In the coming months, Carsome will be partnering with other organisations to offer more customised, personalised solutions to enhance user experience, allowing them to create an end-to-end integrated online used car ecosystem powered by data.