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Buying a used car from your smartphone just got easier

Online car retailer Rodo is helping customers buy vehicles from local dealers -- without ever stepping foot in a dealer's lot.
marc-wojno
Written by Marc Wojno, Senior Editor on
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Rodo

Digital automobile marketplace Rodo announced that it has entered the used car market, enabling US consumers to instantly buy used vehicles from participating local dealers from their smartphones and computers -- without having to set foot in a dealer's lot.

Since 2017, New York-based Rodo has provided an online marketplace for consumers to buy and lease new vehicles from local car dealers. "We have dealerships who show their inventory. We have consumers who come to our app or website, and they're able to look for vehicles and see pricing and then place an order on the vehicle and have it delivered to their home," Rodo CEO Nathan Hecht told ZDNet. 

"It's very different than the so-called legacy online platforms where... you eventually have to go into the dealership; here we've turned the new car transaction into an e-commerce transaction," he added.

Rodo is now taking its practice of selling new and leased cars to the used car marketplace, going head-to-head with nationally recognized retailers like Cargurus, Carvana, and Vroom. The company maintains that their online platform is the only one which enables new, used, and trade-in automotive transactions.

Hecht told ZDNet that Rodo's competitors buy cars, recondition them, and sell their own inventories. He believes this limits customers to the pricing and availability of the seller's inventory. Rather than buy and maintain car fleets, Rodo partners with local car dealerships. 

"What we're doing is showing you a large network of car dealers that will compete for your business, so inventory is much more robust, pricing will be much more competitive, and you will still get the advantages of buying online and having home delivery," he said.

The cost of buying a new car is skyrocketing, averaging $45,000. You can blame a combination of supply chain issues and the limited supply of microchips needed for car computer systems as contributing factors. Hecht said that Rodo had plans to roll out a used car platform, but the latest pressures in the new car marketplace prompted the company to push its used car option live before the end of the year. Now, customers who are in the market for a car and can't find a new vehicle will have an easier time buying used, Rodo hopes.

How it works

Like most online purchases, buying a car on Rodo can be as easy as a few taps and swipes from a smartphone. To begin searching for cars, you must first create an account and provide your personal information, which helps Rodo send you real and personalized prices for actual vehicles from local dealerships. Once you find a vehicle, you place your order and upload a few documents for the dealer to complete the application. 

Once the sale is approved and completed, you can either pick up the car at the dealership or schedule a free delivery to your home, all in the same day.

When it comes to qualifying customers for financing, Rodo already has the data needed from lenders. "We ingest all of that data into our system, so when the consumer 'comes in,' we already categorize them based on that data in the background. We know which lender is relevant to them, and then the system algorithmically applies the best ones for them automatically," Hecht said.

From the dealership's perspective, it's fast and convenient. Once the customer places an order, the dealer gets a completely packaged order: The dealer sees the vehicle the customer selected, as well as their personal information previously uploaded through Rodo's application process. 

"So from the dealership's perspective, all they need to do is list the vehicle on our site, price it competitively, and it's a completed transaction. All they need to do is prep the vehicle, finalize the paperwork, and deliver the car to the consumer... If the consumer was shopping in their store, there'd be a sales process with a lot of overhead associated with that," Hecht said.

Poised for growth

Rodo currently has half-a-million registered users and a network of 1,400 local dealerships throughout the country, mainly in the Northeast/Tri-State area, Florida, California, and the Midwest, Hecht noted.

The company has plans to expand to 40 states over the next few years thanks to strong performance over the past two years. "Business is fantastic," Hecht said, explaining that the company saw revenue growth this year about 10 times over what they saw in 2020, and they saw 10 times growth in 2020 over 2019. 

Despite its recent successes, and its new endeavor into the used car marketplace, it will take time to determine if the company is driving in the right direction. "A few years ago, consumers were more hesitant to do a large-ticket transactions online, but I think many more are coming around. Business has been good for us, but there's still big opportunities and a long road ahead," Hecht said.

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