Indonesia’s automotive market is the largest in Southeast Asia, selling more than 1 million new cars a year. At the same time, access to the Internet is also on the rise. Those two trends are a savvy opportunity for Carmudi, the global car sales site launched by Germany-based Rocket Internet, which is already present in 17 other countries. In Indonesia, Carmudi raised the number of listing, from 500 in January to now more than 12,000. Carmudi officials describe the site as being an online version of classified ads for cars.
The site has made substantial progress given it is little over one year old, having been created in October last year by Rocket, which launched with auto sites in Mexico, Myanmar and Nigeria. Rocket reportedly raised $10 million to invest in Asia, and used it to launch in Indonesia and Philippines early this year. Globally, Carmudi has reached more than 100,000 listings.
Carmudi does face some competition in Indonesia, such as Mobil123, Otosia and RajaMobil. Its competitor Mobil123 is a particularly a threat, since it is backed by iCarAsia, an Australian listed company, which also has branches in Malaysia and Thailand. Another competitor, Otosia, is backed by Kapanlagi, and is ranked by web rating service Alexa as the number one by traffic, as the 177th most popular among all Indonesian sites, while Mobil123 ranks at 476th. Carmudi ranks at just 1,693.
One of the co-founders of Carmudi is Dutchman Erwin Sikma, a former McKinsey consultant. Erwin, who also helped launch the site in Indonesia, said the site was started in just three weeks as Rocket doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel in each new market. It builds one platform that is cloned on a global basis, with the main change being the site’s language. “We replicate that in different countries, including in Indonesia,” says Erwin.
The site also had a clear online launch strategy. “We had a structured plan. We went to the oldest dealers first and gave them a very good offer. Maybe even gave them a couple of free months, so that we could prove that it worked,” says Erwin. Carmudi can build credibility if it can get older and more established dealers are on the site. The site makes money by charging the dealers for the site’s services. Buyers pay nothing to use the site.
Another important feature of the site is that it is designed for the slower Internet speeds usually found in emerging markets. “The Internet speed in Indonesia is relatively slow. Our platform is optimized for that,” says Erwin. Carmudi users can easily load and upload data with minimum bandwidth usage. “It is not like in the West, where sites have more features and higher quality pictures,” he says.
Having photos of the cars on the site is one important feature, says Bagus Setiawan, a sales executive at Jakarta auto dealer SKY Motors. “They know how to make the pictures look attractive to the customers,” he says. “We have a chance to increase our sales using their platform.”