Edmunds.com is hoping to revolutionize how people buy cars and eliminate the most frustrating part of the car-shopping process.
According to Seth Berkowitz, president and chief operating officer of Edmunds.com, 54 percent of car shoppers say they would prefer more clarity on the exact price of a car than to haggle with dealers.
“It is the single largest unmet need,” Berkowitz said.
To solve that problem, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company has quietly rolled out a new product, called “price promise,” that allows customers to ask dealers to email them an exact price for a car or truck they find through Edmunds.com, the company said this week at the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.
Customers can print out the certificate and take it with them to the dealership. The dealer is required to honor the price if the customer decides to buy the car.
Berkowitz said Edmunds.com launched price promise in March with one dealer in Portland, Ore. Since then, more than 600 dealers have signed up.
“We think this product has a lot of legs,” he said.
Edmunds.com’s price-promise business model is designed to take the uncertainty out of pricing and speed up the buying process. It also comes with the expectation that the customer will receive top-notch customer service.
Dealers who have participated find that they are able to sell their cars for $300 to $500 above the average sale price. Customers, Berkowitz said, are willing to pay a little more than the best possible deal if they can save time, get great customer service and know they are getting a fair price.
So far, 14 percent of customers who print out a price-promise certificate follow through with a purchase of the original car or truck they looked at on the company’s website, Berkowitz said.
Edmunds.com competes with a number of other sites that offer car shopping and pricing features. With 18 million unique visitors per month, Edmunds.com is among the three most-visited websites for car shopping, Berkowitz said.