Trade Me head of motors Alan Clark is one of the speakers who will be appearing at AIM Group’s AutosPlus18 conference, which takes place in London on October 15 and 16.

Clark (LinkedIn Profile) joined Trade Me as head of strategy in January 2015 and became head of motors in January 2017. Prior to joining the company, Clark held senior roles at Vodaphone New Zealand and The Boston Consulting Group (both in New Zealand and the U.S.).

The AIM Group asked him a few questions ahead of the conference:

Alan Clark

What unique challenges do you face in your market?

Alan Clark: New Zealand is a small country that is geographically isolated. That makes for a few challenges.

The first is scale. We don’t have the luxury of product development or marketing scale that the likes of a Facebook, Ebay or AutoTrader have, so we run very lean. The flip side of that is the ability to move fast and get great customer intimacy. Our sales, marketing, and engineering teams all sit within a 20-meter radius, so it’s quick to get customer feedback or ask whether a feature will work.

The other challenge we have is quirky and specific to automotive. In New Zealand, we drive on the left-hand side of the road and have very few import tariffs. So we have a huge amount of used, imported Japanese vehicles on the road. That makes for all sorts of difficulties in storing vehicles’ attributes. There are different names and specification variances for the same model, depending on whether it originated in Japan or not, and no central registry of all the possible names. And, vehicle history is largely unknown prior to the car arriving in New Zealand.

What will you be speaking about in your presentation at AutosPlus18?

I’m talking about the success we’ve had in driving depth product revenues over the last few years. That’s come from a lean team, so we’ve had to focus on doing the most important things for our customers — having to steer away from big, resource-intensive heavy product overhauls or lots of bright and shiny things. Largely, it’s come with great in-market execution and a focus on understanding our customers.

How do you see the competition from Facebook and Google? How do you deal with it?

We see competition from Facebook and Google as strong — Facebook, in particular, is quite active in NZ. For us, we’re focused on making sure we’ve got a great customer experience. Trust is critical here. Buying a vehicle is a major purchase for your average customer, and trust is critical — far more so than purchasing a t-shirt or a set of shelves from your neighbor. We need to make sure we remove all the pain points and are a better place than Facebook and Google to find that major purchase.

What is the most important KPI you are tracking for your own business? And why is this the most important one?

There’s no one KPI. I wish there were. Although our business isn’t hugely complex, it would do an injustice to the team to have one KPI we focus on — the critical, non-financial ones we talk about are customer NPS (both dealers, consumers, buyers, and sellers), the amount of inventory on site and audience.

How will your business have changed in 5 years?

We think we’ll be a lot bigger — we’ve got great momentum. We’ll have expanded into more services beyond simply connecting people who have a vehicle to sell, and people who want to buy. We’re looking at adding tools that help buyers and sellers — like better integration of vehicle history reports, finance, valuations. But, we’re also looking at building out our editorial content with reviews and advice.

 

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