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Miracle Makers

Used Car Sales are Booming: Here’s how one company is revolutionizing the industry

Photo by Michael Heuser on Unsplash

How many times have you had an amazing shopping experience? Can you remember them off the top of your head? What about the bad experiences? I bet you those left more of an impression.

Toby Russell, the Founder and Co-CEO of Shift, is driving transformation in a market that has long been associated with terrible customer experiences and a low level of trust:the used-car sales market.

Despite warnings that you needed a miracle to scale a car-sales business, Russel founded Shift with a philosophy that exceptional customer experience could make a difference. On this episode of Business X factors, he reveals how Shift has found a way to radically improve experiences in buying used-cars, the lessons he learned from his previous venture, and the challenges he met on the road to offer a seamless, hassle-free purchasing experience for customers.

“Buying a car is a massive deal, it’s the second if not the largest purchase that most people will make in their lives and it’s terrible”, he says. “This industry has been built around a zero-sum mindset. That is just crazy in my mind.”

Russell wanted to do something about that situation, and they way he figured was best was to focus on what the customers actually want and need.

“Too often, the customer experience is forgotten from the start, or is unintentionally deprioritized as the business grows and scales and things like margin, marketing efforts, or internal organizational structures are put on the forefront,” Russell says. “Plus, add on a layer of complexity to the business or industry that the company is operating in, and they could be in for a whole heap of trouble.”

Shift thought there was a much better way to tackle this market.

Research suggested that there was a demand for used cars with consumers buying these cars at twice the rate of new cars and their buyers were tech-savvy and were keen to purchase on-line.

“The core idea was working back from a real customer need that we saw as a big gap,” Russell explains. “The experience is so terrible and that’s actually a signal that there’s a huge opportunity to transform that [industry].”

The car-buying process could be better and the way to make it so was through a digital lens.

“There’s just a tremendous amount of opportunity for ecommerce to really grow in this space because it’s a huge industry built very much around traditional retail,” Russell says. “And I think all of e-commerce is fundamentally different from that and a tiny part of the market today, relative to what it will be. I think, what we’re going to see in three to five years’ time, you’re going to look back and be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I didn’t just buy my car online.’”

So how did Russell and Shift set about to improve customer experiences and transform the perception of customers that felt taken advantage of during the car-buying process?

To hear more about Shift, tune into Business X factors.

Business X factors is produced by Mission.org and brought to you by Hyland.

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