Monthly Archives: September 2016

“Don’t Waze and Drive” – Try THAT in São Paulo!


Can you name an app service that is used by virtually everyone who has a smartphone in Australia or even Melbourne?

I can’t. Probably the closest would be Facebook and even then I know plenty of people with smartphones who refuse to partake in any form of social media.

Sure virtually every teenager in Australia (it seems) is using Instagram and/or Snapchat as their communication and social acceptance tool but how many over 40-odds that you know use Snapchat on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis?

For me the smartphone is great for bringing phone, messaging (iMessage is the choice mode), email and access to news and social tools but I can’t name an app that isn’t a core part of the smartphone that I rely on on a daily basis.
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Then we look at Brazil and in particular São Paulo where I have spent a lot of time over the past few years and I have not been in a private car, taxi or Uber where the driver hasn’t been using Waze for directions.

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app which enables you to join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and money on their daily commute.

In a city like São Paulo it is absolutely vital and could be the difference between a 20 minute trip to an hour trip, every day!
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Waze is useful in Melbourne but not a necessity. I use it (when I remember) to see how long it is going take me to get him from work. Sometimes if it gives me bad news I stay a little longer until it clears a bit. It is very accurate even though not widely used in Australia.

The other app that is used by virtually everyone in Brazil, Chile and Mexico (the three countries I have spent most of the time in that part of the world) is WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is used for personal and business by all ages; it is amazing that an independent app can be the default phone and messaging application by hundreds of millions of people.

It makes sense though as WhatsApp is available on iPhone and Android whereas iMessage isn’t and SMS isn’t consumed in your data charge.
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It is also equally amazing to my friends in Brazil when I say I don’t use Whatsapp with my Australian friends. “But how do you communicate?”, they would ask.

Similar response to the news that we don’t rely on Waze. “That’s crazy, I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere without Waze”, they say.

Sure we are tech savvy in Australia and the younger generation coming through are more and more living their lives through their phones but I am yet to see the reliance by virtually all ages on a Waze or WhatsApp in Australia like it is in Latin America.

Then again I just have to think how my boys used their phones to know that it isn’t far away or maybe it is here and I just don’t know it.

They would argue they can’t live without Snapchat today but that’s another matter.


9 Things Moving Soloautos in Mexico


carsales push into controlling positions in Mexico and Chile follows our successful deploy of IP and tech services into our minority, strategic positions in Brazil and South Korea.

Here’s 9 things we’ve implemented into Soloautos.mx in September that we think will give the business a kick along:

1. New logo. For the first we have introduced the carsales “swish” to one of our global partner’s logos making it instantly recognizable as a carsales brand. We’ve kept the Soloautos red and black in the logo but have made all the letters lower case to give it a more modern look.
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2. New website. Now much cleaner, stronger action points throughout the site with larger vehicle photos. Along with the new logo, the new website signals to Mexico that Soloautos is on the move. Our first few weeks have already seen a significant increase in pages per visit and a lowering in bounce rate.

3. Ryvuss search. carsales’ proprietary search platform has been integrated into the new website giving Soloautos best in class search and search navigation capabilities.
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4. New sell pages. Cleaner and clearer process to point sellers to the selling package that is right for them. First day live with new sell pages was a record day in terms of ads placed and this positive trend continued in the first few weeks.
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5. Deeper Autologia integration. Autologia is our editorial brand which we have now integrated tightly into the new website. This is a great result for all car buyers, researchers and enthusiasts visiting Soloautos.
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6. Better SEO structures. This is a very important piece of the new website so the right information in the Soloautos website can be found by consumers searching for cars in Mexico – remember Google is for searching, Soloautos is for finding.

7. Move into AWS. By moving Soloatuos into the cloud we immediately get an uplift in scalability, reliability, disaster recovery options and response times, not to mention carsales management and support with the website now sitting next to all carsales other online assets.

8. New display advertising options. The new Soloautos website enables us to offer OEM’s, dealers, finance companies, insurance companies and the like more targeted, integrated advertising options that compliments the inventory and editorial focus of the site.

9. Back end integration. Not only does the new website integrate seamlessly with the existing Soloautos dealer control panel, it also integrates into the carsales Autogate system. This enables Soloautos to provide an increased level of service to existing dealers using existing tools and also gives Soloautos the opportunity to leverage from Autogate’s proven lead management features.

This is just the start of things to come and it is certainly an exciting time for Soloautos and Mexicans looking to buy and sell cars!


This Is What I Learned From Publishing My First 50 Posts


I didn’t set out to write 50 posts. In fact I didn’t set out to write any posts. So why did I and what have I learnt from it?

It’s not until you sit back and have a good think about it that you realise that we all go through a lot in our life. I wouldn’t call my life extraordinary in any way but I think I do have a lot of experiences in business, sport and raising 3 kids that was worth documenting. In fact I am sure we all have enough life experience to be worth documenting.

I started travelling to Latin America for business regularly and with plenty time sitting on planes I started to write about my business journey which had to touch on my sporting life since the two collided very early on.

When I started writing I wasn’t going to post on LinkedIn or my own blog. I simply had a will to write down my journey.
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After a while I had written pages of notes and then started to think about what I should do with them. I wasn’t going to write a book so the notion of registering my own domain (paulbarlow.com.au) and loading a WordPress blog site on there appealed to me.

Like most things I do, I had to do it straight away so did and posted my first blog with a promise to make it regular. I didn’t make it regular, in fact I left it for well over a year but in that time I didn’t stop writing, I just didn’t post.

I then started to notice more and more people posting their own articles on LinkedIn and I was reading them. It was then that I thought I might have something of interest or value to some people through this platform. So at the end of February this year I started posting short blogs on LinkedIn and simultaneously to my own web site.

My goal wasn’t to go viral; I just wanted to post my stories, my thoughts, experiences and along the way; I suppose to help to develop my own brand.

Again like most things I’m passionate about, I started to post nearly twice a week (and I had to stop myself from posting more). I didn’t want to overload on the posting but I couldn’t help myself. I had so much material ready to go I just wanted it out there.
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It’s funny; I’m not too fussed about how many people read, like and/or comment on my posts but I do get a buzz when people from the office mention that they read and enjoy my posts. I like it that they have a view inside my window.

So what have I learnt from my first 50 posts?

Writing about your experiences, your beliefs is therapeutic.
Having a platform to then publish these thoughts is nice. The thing about publishing versus not publishing is that you have to put thought into who may read it so there has to be a filter in what you say. I think this is a good discipline because it is not about venting it is about opening yourself up and being balanced in your thoughts.

We all have different definitions of success.
For some it is to be the absolute best in anything they do (even this takes on different meaning). For some it is measured by material things such as how much they earn, their position/title, the size of their house, car, etc. For others it is about just being happy with their lot in life. This is important for everyone; we are all different and it would be a boring world if we weren’t.

You must be prepared for not everyone agreeing with or liking what you have to say.
Again, we are all different and it is the very essence why I like posting. I don’t claim to be right all the time but I will claim to have an opinion.

If you are thinking about doing it, just do it (to borrow a line).
Too many people have ideas of things they want to do but just don’t make the effort to do it. If something keeps knocking on your door the best thing to do is open that door. You’ll soon know if you don’t want to do it anymore or if it’s not for you.

I will keep on writing and posting for as long as I enjoy it and have something to write about. The latter shouldn’t be a problem because I have no doubt that no matter who you are, we all have an opinion and something to talk about that can be of value to someone.

And if it’s not – who cares?


Premium Verticals Up Against The Freemiums


carsales.com runs a Premium marketplace in the online automotive vertical space.

As carsales takes investment positions in more global online auto businesses (auto vertical), we are more and more competing against some very large Freemium businesses like OLX and Mercado Libre across Latin America, with each of them being general classifieds sites (horizontals).

Horizontal’s have a role to play in getting rid of your old household items. A car is not one of these

Webmotors.com.br, Soloautos.mx, Chileautos.cl and Encar.com are all online Premium players in automotive competing against the horizontal Freemium players.
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This is certainly not new to carsales as our largest competitor in Australia is also a horizontal. That’s not to say we don’t have serious competition from other Online auto vertical players in Australia; we’ve always faced this.

“The easiest way to get one million people paying is to get one billion people using.”

A Freemium website makes their money by charging for value added services once you have listed your item. I love Phil Libin’s (Evernote) quote “The easiest way to get one million people paying is to get one billion people using.” This is certainly what Freemiums focus on.

The Freemium general classified players of the world are following this by having a platform to advertise a car in the same way as your 8 year old couch; and it shouldn’t cut it for a car buyer or seller.

Remember this – a car is (almost) everyone’s second largest purchase in their life therefore deep information, CarFacts reports, inspection reports, reviews and above all else, trust and safety are all major factors and things only a Premium vertical online website is in a position to offer.
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The role we play in each of our global markets is as the Premium and Premier online auto vertical player; this means we need to do cars better than anyone. From searching, finding, researching and buying to selling with everything you need to make a quick, safe and profitable sale.

Our goal is to help you sell as opposed to helping you advertise; this is a BIG difference. This goal is different to Freemium horizontal player who is more interested in getting towards the “billion people using” rather than making the experience of each and every user one that represents the investment each is making.

Horizontal’s have a role to play in getting rid of your old household items. A car is not one of these from a selling or buying perspective.
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This is why we will continue to invest in our platform to provide the best information and tools to transact on the second largest single item in most people’s life’s in the safest way possible.

I think there’s a business there.


Pay to Advertise OR Pay to Sell Online?


Will consumers pay to Advertise their car online? It’s an interesting question.

Advertising versus selling are two different things. A typical online advertising model goes like this – pay me $50 to advertise your car for 30 days, if it doesn’t sell then pay me another $50 to advertise it for another 30 days. It is in the advertisers interest for you NOT to sell the car as they will make more money when you advertise again the next month and the next…..

Now let’s change the question slightly –

Will consumers pay to Sell their car online? Now you are talking; the answer has to be yes.

A typical online selling model goes like this – pay me $65 to sell your car regardless of how long it takes. It is in the online businesses interests for you to sell the car as quickly as possible as this then creates a good experience and word of mouth so they provide tools and tips (paid and unpaid) to get the car sold.
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Encar.com, our leading auto website in South Korea, wasn’t charging private sellers to advertise their cars online when we came into the business.

Our new business partners didn’t think South Korean consumers would pay to advertise their cars. They were probably right but would they pay to sell their car? This is a question they did not know the answer too.

We were confident that as the clear number 1 auto website in South Korea providing enormous value to car buyers and sellers, consumers would (and should) pay Encar to sell their car online.
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So the carsales team worked with the Encar team on structuring a private seller platform that would help the South Korean consumer sell their car quickly and easily for a reasonable price.

To say our business partners were nervous was an understatement. They were certain the number of private seller cars would drop right off a cliff.

In April last year we made the switch to be a paid model for private seller cars and in the first month saw a small drop off in private seller cars and was already a much better result than our partners envisaged.

Each month the “drop off dropped off” and in just 6 months we were back to the same level of private seller cars added each month in a paid model to that of a free model.
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There are a lot of factors that went into the decision making process and planning for a change like this to go as well as it did. A lot of things need to be put in place to make it a success, none the least was the mindset of the Encar management.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that Encar is the leading auto website in the country meant that we were extremely confident that our model of “pay once till sold” would work – that is, don’t pay to advertise, pay to sell.

I’ve seen lots of websites fail to make the change from “free to paid” as there is a lot to consider, none the least is the mindset that is your website geared around advertising or selling?