Distributed Inspections: bringing online used car sales to the next level
Much has been written about the transition of the used car sector into online sales. Between Carvana, Vroom, Shift and incumbents like Carmax, it's never been easier to find and order a car online.
But where do all these cars come from?
About a third of all used cars are sourced from auctions. The large auctions offer dealers the convenience, variety and most importantly - trusted condition reports.
Condition reports, and the inspections that produce them, have become so critical to wholesale transactions that the large auction groups have created their own branding and standards, and invested heavily into in-house inspection facilities.
Centralized Inspections: dedicated inspection lanes.
But inspection facilities mean that the vehicle needs to be shipped to the auction, get inspected, detailed and only then go onto the auction lane.
This is the tradition model of 'Centralized Inspections' which creates bottlenecks and still relies on the subjective view of typically 1-2 individuals in an auction inspection lane. Despite some automation efforts, like 'inspection tunnel solutions' there is inherent lack of efficiency in transporting a vehicle just for the purpose of assessing it.
Partly-distributed inspections: armies of inspectors at your doorstep
The newcomers into the auction space, like ACV Auctions, appreciate how important inspections are their business, so they have started sending inspectors to customers creating appraisals and posting the vehicles online.
This is an important development which we still view as Partly-Distributed inspections. This model offers more flexibility to car owners since they don't need to send their vehicles to auctions and wait; but it is still limited by the number of available inspectors, their skill and subjectivity. Finally, it becomes quite expensive to dispatch a professional inspector to appraise every car, making it uneconomic where there's no scale.
We believe the technology is already there to bring inspections to the next level. We call it Distributed Inspections: the ability for anyone to inspect the condition of their car using accessible, objective tools and backed by artificial intelligence.
In recent months, Ravin has deployed a mobile inspection app that allows dealers to communicate with trade-in customers and assess the value of the trade remotely; assess the condition of off-lease vehicle; and even post the unit on a virtual auction. Dealers, auctions, fleet owners and even individual car sellers can now take advantage of an under 5 minute flow that captures the most important information and structures them into industry-standard reports.
These reports can then be exported to fleet owners and online buyers, either via an auction or directly. Using Ravin's inspection app service, professional appraisers can make repair / replace decisions, adjust the condition score and approve the transaction.
At scale, Distributed Inspections powered by Artificial Intelligence create the necessary trust and efficiency that are crucial for the online used car market to keep growing.
We will continue updating on Distributed Inspections and how they are changing the landscape of online transactions.