Finalist 2021

Summon - designing a new auto retail experience

Summon

Summon provides Aussies with a better and fairer way to sell their cars.

Summon provides Aussies with a better and fairer way to sell their cars.

The first service we have launched is a concierge service and marketplace for selling prestige cars privately. Think of it like a real estate agent for your BMW.

We provide an alternative to selling your car privately (which is time consuming and a hassle), or selling your car to a dealer (where you lose up to 20% of the value of your car).

Design Brief

For decades there has been a void in the market for selling used cars. Sellers have had two (crappy) options;

  1. Sell your car yourself privately (very time consuming and a lot of hassle), or
  2. Sell your car to a dealer / trade-in (where you don’t get a great price).

We spotted this void and wanted to create an amazing alternative - something with the convenience of selling to a dealer, but the value of selling privately.

To achieve this we needed to overcome regulatory hurdles, design the experience from scratch and build our own bespoke software - all with the goal of providing a great experience for customers whilst getting them a better sale price for their car.


This project was developed by:

Design Process

Because this service had never been offered before, prior to launch we needed to validate three things;

Feasibility - would we be in breach of Consumer Trading regulations that govern car dealers, plus State laws that restrict selling on consignment, and if yes how could we work around restrictions on major car marketplace Websites (like Carsales) that limit the number of private car sales you can post each year?

Viability - would the business model work? What is the right price?

Desirability - do people want this? Will they pay for it?

We progressed with an MVP of both the Web site and the service (e.g. test-drives) to test viability and desirability, while in parallel we jumped through the three major regulatory hoops.

By November 2020 we had a partnership in place with Carsales, and had successfully proven that customers loved the service and that it can be profitable. We were ready to go!

The next stage involved scaling up our digital marketing, relaunching a new brand and Web site, and building apps and services such as our valuation app. We are constantly experimenting, with new value propositions, pricing and behind-the-scenes systems.

We survey every customer, and ask for areas of improvement. Based on this feedback we are constantly making changes, for example thanks to a recent customer’s suggestion we have designed welcome ID cards to our concierge team.

We have a strong focus on the user experience of our customers (sellers of prestige cars), and we are thrilled this has been successful, as can be seen in our 9.5/10 customer satisfaction score.

Design Excellence

Our customers are busy professionals (and often also busy parents), who don’t have time to sell their car themselves. But it’s unfair that they should have to take a 15% - 20% lower price for the convenience of selling to a dealer.

Summon provides a solution. We take all the time and hassle out of selling, and also sell for a higher price than they could themselves (average 5% higher).

As a start-up, we have invested in design to help differentiate ourselves from the ‘Old Guard’ traditional car dealerships - opting for a contemporary “D2C” style for our brand and visual ID.

We believe good design is not just visual, but is a requirement for the back-office systems that ultimately lead to a fantastic customer experience. Our customer experience comprises four stages;

  1. Valuation (we have built our own valuation app, which provides beautiful PDF valuation reports for every car)
  2. Onboarding (where we learn about their car, take photos and advertise for sale)
  3. For sale (we provide weekly email status updates, plus more frequent contact if we receive an offer or test-drive request)
  4. Settlement (we assist with receipts, funds transfer, registration paperwork)

For each of these, we use good design to ensure all touchpoints are consistent, beautiful and user friendly, and we use technology to create efficiencies and ensure our systems can scale as the business grows.

We believe that Summon provides a new benchmark for design excellence in automotive retail, as can be seen in our customer satisfaction (9.5/10 average) and our business results (we have sold over 100 prestige cars, and are growing quickly - in September we signed up 24 new customers, our previous best month was 16 customers in August).

Design Innovation

For decades there has been a void in the market for selling used cars. Sellers have had two (crappy) options;

  1. Sell your car yourself privately (very time consuming and a lot of hassle), or
  2. Sell your car to a dealer / trade-in (where you don’t get a great price).

We spotted this gap in the market and wanted to create an amazing alternative - something with the convenience of selling to a dealer, but the value of selling privately.

The Summon service is so unique, before launching we first had to find out if it was legal! (it is). We have taken a creative approach to solving a problem that most people can relate to - that selling a used car is a major hassle, and car dealerships give you a terrible deal.

Being a new innovative service, we have had to build a lot of these tools ourselves. For example, we have custom-built a valuations database, Web app and recommendation engine - which creates usable and personalised Valuation Reports for prospective customers. Specifically, unlike other valuation tools, our reports include a list of recently sold cars just like yours, so you can see the data behind the valuation.

We are often asked “why has this never existed before?”. The answer is that people filled the void with car-loving uncles and brothers selling cars informally for their family members - but nobody had professionalised and scaled-up a service like Summon is.

Design Impact

The used car industry has a huge amount of inefficiency, we have designed a new service to circumvent these for the benefit of the customer.

Despite the roller-coaster ride of starting during a global pandemic, Summon has been exceeding all expectations for our customers;

Since launching we have;

  • Sold over $8.5m worth of prestige cars, with another $4.5m currently for sale
  • We average a 15% higher price than a trade-in
  • We average a 5% higher price than if the seller sold the car themselves privately
  • Our customers love us! We average 9.5/10 in customer satisfaction surveys.

Summon provides an alternative to an incredibly inefficient and wasteful incumbent process for selling used cars, in particular with a trade-in. When a car is traded-in with a car dealer, it is often then sold to a wholesaler, and then sold to another retail car dealership, and then onto the end customer! We skip the middle-men and facilitate a sale directly between the seller and the buyer.

Being born during peak-COVID, our business is adaptable by necessity. For example, we launched in Melbourne, but during lockdowns we were (happily) forced to open in Sydney, which is now our biggest market.

Here is what our customers are saying:
“I will never sell a car any other way”
“Communication and the quality of advice were both excellent!”
“You guys have been outstanding to work with”
“Summon made the sale of my car easy”

As a Victorian business with all design performed in-house in Melbourne, we are proud to have successfully launched the service into QLD and NSW.

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