After two years under the UKVehicle.com brand, the company has decided to mark the start of an expansion project with a rebrand. Tom Wood speaks to Jonathan Minter about what this means for the future, and the new markets in which the business is looking to establish a presence
For the past two years UKVehicle.com has been operating as a pre-purchase car-checking site in the UK; however for some time now it has had an eye on expanding into new areas and markets.
Speaking to Motor Finance, Tom Wood, director at Cazana.com, explains that the old brand was mainly known for car checks and a bit of vehicle research.
He hopes Cazana will now be able to associate the new brand with an expanded role in the car-buying process, as well as a more international role.
International expansion has been some time coming, and it is fairly apparent why Cazana would work better as a name for a data provider compared to UKVehicle in international and potentially non-English -speaking markets.
Wood says the company is looking to enter the US market, and that it already has developed quite a bit of data to support its market entry there. At the same time, Cazana plans to expand into mainland Europe.
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Wood notes: “We’ve been collecting international data for a while now, so we’ve got a great tail of data to be able to do exactly the same thing in other markets.
“Cazana is a UK-based company, but we’ve developed a good understanding and data from international markets that allow us to rapidly expand overseas too.”
Within the UK, the company also has a number of plans, including its role in expanding with finance companies. Wood notes the advantages of predicting residual values based on real vehicle conditions and option packages based on whole-market results, as opposed to just auction data, and that the company has a history valuing niche cars, such as classic cars and supercars.
“This data opens up a lot of scope for finance companies to be able to develop new products and broaden their offering in terms of financing these classes of vehicle which are quite hard to get valuations on through current providers. We’re also able to ‘show our working’ exposing real-time pricing data to our partners to help value mass market vehicles more accurately too.”
To that end, Cazana will be looking to speak with lenders from 2017. An example of the company reaching out to lending companies has been BMW Financial Services’ Accelerator Project, which Cazana entered several months ago.
Although Wood does not mention other lenders or brokers the company is speaking to currently, he stresses this is something the company is interested in doing.
He adds: “From a B2B perspective, Cazana has started to open up unique datasets to businesses to better understand vehicle condition, modifications, history and pricing. We’re developing strong partnerships with companies like BMW and a number of leading insurance companies to help them better understand the condition and value of vehicles over time.”
This desire to work with business is also part of the reason why Cazana is looking to expand internationally. The company has relationships with a number of insurers, and has found that a lot of these businesses operate across several markets – often in several European countries, or the US.
According to Wood, once Cazana has proven the credibility of its data, companies ask if it would be possible to roll the system out to support international operations.
“This has been one of the drivers for the development of our international data set,” he says.
The transactional phase
So far, Cazana has traditionally focused on one element of the customer car-buying journey – checking a vehicle’s provenance before purchase. However the company is hoping to change this, by offering services from the beginning to the end of the customer car-buying process.
Recently this has included the launch of a car-inspection service, whereby Cazana will send out a local, qualified technician to inspect a vehicle. This product was launched recently, and while no numbers were given Wood says the product has already gained some significant traction.
One advantage the product has is price. Given the price of fuel and of rail fares in the UK, Wood says that for some customers it can actually be cheaper to hire an inspector to look at a vehicle rather than physically go and look at it themselves.
In some cases this has resulted in people buying without actually going to see the physical vehicles.
On top of this, Cazana is planning to launch its own car-search platform in January, to let consumers look for a specific car across the UK market online. The offering will include private sellers, dealers and auction houses.
Also in the offing is what Wood describes as a “vehicle transaction service”. Wood says that used vehicle purchases can still be quite a messy process, with risk involved in the transfer of funds and change of ownership. The aim of the new transaction product will be to streamline this, and try to give consumers better peace of mind.
He explains: “We’re actually the biggest aggregator of car advertisements in the world. If you think about it, our data contains a complete view of the current marketplace and what’s on sale.
“Our intelligent vehicle cataloguing allows us to pinpoint very specific makes and models of vehicles currently on sale – whether that’s privately or with a dealer or at auction. We’ve now opened this up to consumers to help them find the vehicle they want.”
In order to fund these expansion plans, Wood reveals the company received an investment from a London venture capital firm in September. As a result of this, the company has been able to grow its data and product teams to 15 people.
Summing up the rebrand, Wood says the company has been out in the market for two years working in vehicle validation, and that it now wants to do more.
“While today we help people validate once they’ve found a car, and we help some businesses to value and assess vehicles, what we really wanted to do was expand the business to help consumers and businesses through the whole used car life cycle.”