Following the cinch platform's re-launch as an online car retail rival to the likes of Cazoo and carzam, AM Magazine's Tom Sharpe sat down with retail director, Jason Cranswick, to learn more about its new direction.
What is the premise of cinch’s move into the position of consumer-facing online retailer?
The cinch proposition is designed to help our dealer partners generate revenues. Moving into the online retail space is both hard and expensive and those are just two reasons why many retailers might not have been able to do that, as they may have liked to, in 2020. We’ve got the customer experience right at the front end – putting something in front of consumers that is both attractive and compelling – but also the ability to organise the supply and logistics, which are very expensive parts of the equation. Our confidence is that the cinch proposition adds these things together effectively for our dealer partners. I feel passionately that this is a value-add that helps dealers accelerate their digital agendas.
What is the scale of the cinch team?
We have a proven management team, experts from classifieds and e-commerce and UK-based developers employed ‘in-house’. This is a business born out of the current COVID situation, however, and we are growing all the time. We started with a team that was essentially a couple of handfuls of employees and now have well in excess of 100. We’re upscaling and increasing our resource both in terms of marketers and developers. Everyone is home working and that seems to be working well.
How has cinch been received among automotive retail leaders?
For the last two months I have spoken to senior leaders and, to be candid, when we have taken time to think and speak about it and answer questions, we have been able to leave that conversation in a very positive place.
How would you address suggestions that cinch turns car retailers into a funding stream for its used car stock?
I think you have to take that question and look at it the other way round. Cinch is a success-based model rather than a subscription model and we’re able to take retailers’ products to a marketplace and a consumer type that’s minded to buy their cars online. We buy the stock before selling it on to the consumer and we charge a modest level of commission by comparison for doing it, when you look at the delivery to home and the provision of drive-away insurance and warranty cover.
Is the dealer partner identified at any part of the sale?
This is a cinch sale to a cinch consumer type that wants to buy online. There are no identifying branding elements to identify the dealer partner who is also involved in the sale. The dealer partner controls their retail pricing and the inventory they sell on to the consumer.
Can retailers advertise stock held on their forecourts via cinch?
Our initial offering is for our dealer partners to buy retail-prepared stock via the BCA Buy Now platform and that ensures high quality and high consistency of the vehicles and the overall proposition. Since launch we have had enquiries asking whether we would consider other stock types and that is something we look at on a case by case basis. This is a very flexible solution. I’d like to think we’re an understanding partner.
AM was told retailers are compelled to advertise a vehicle exclusively with cinch for 60 days. Is this correct?
It’s not possible to ‘double sell’ the car. The stock is stored in our environment, ready for fulfilment, and we need them for a period to take them to market, sell them and complete the handover transaction. For a certain period you cannot market the car elsewhere. The dealer might determine that period is 30 days.
How important will marketing be?
How you drive customers to that online inventory is critically important. The cost of doing that is equally as challenging as building a consumer platform. I’ve been really pleased with the cinch television adverts with Rylan (TV host Rylan ClarkNeal). They’ve resonated with people and that benefits all our dealer partners. It’s hard for a mid-sized dealer group to get that kind of traction. We had more Rylan ads over the Christmas period. What needs to be recognised is we see this as a long-term thing. If this is to be viable to the partners it’s something that we simply have to promote.
And that nationwide promotion brings national scale for cinch’s partners?
Absolutely. The cinch consumer can be anywhere in the UK. They are buying that vehicle on the premise it will be delivered to their home. Our fee structure is the same no matter where the customer lives, with no extra cost to customer or dealer partner. Our customer promise is they could have delivery in as little as 22 hours and, as you will see from TrustPilot reviews, with a 4.7 rating, it is already reaching or exceeding expectations. The final delivery process is conducted by cinch delivery drivers, who hand over in fully COVID-secure fashion. It’s that logistics back office that really allows us to make savings for our partners. To put that infrastructure in place from scratch would be very arduous and expensive.