Auto Mart South Africa – fire from the dust of JunkMail Cars

Auto Mart was formed as rivalry in a marketplace controlled by AutoTrader over 10 years ago.  This makes Auto Mart one of the maturest internet companies in SA if you consider that most internet companies have been around for less than 20 years.  At least the website that we all know and buy our used cars from in South Africa automart.co.za, is today a powerhouse.  This wasn’t the scenario when they started out.

From general dealer to expert!

A really successful area of the junk mail paper was the Automotive section, and next to the AutoTrader journal itself, it was without any doubt the most effective area to go to for locating and  buying a used car for yourself.  AutoTrader’s success was because it had existed ten years before JunkMail came to being, although it wasn’t free. JunkMail and CapeAds where free classified – kind of.  Those who wanted their advertisements on either JunkMail or CapeAds, where enabled to list them without any payment, but needless to say, purchasing the paper itself cost a number of rands.  It wasn’t unusual however, usually you’d go and buy the JunkMail just to check if your auto listing was truly in it – therefore they extracted their money out of you sooner or later. That functioned well for everyone.  It satisfied the extremely eager car buyers whose first task of the day was to get their hands on copies of the classified advertising.  Some folks even stored past copies, many weeks old, only to assess if the listed automobiles where still accessible. This suited the bottom dwelling bargain hunters as a used car that remains in the paper for long opens up the seller to negotiate a more favourable price.  This worked like peanut butter and jam, and we-didn’t actually look for alternatives, well not before the www came charging in.

The change in industry was its catalyst.

Yes, it started when mighty JunkMail began to see an extremely rapid decline in its enterprise of marketing second hand products in the paper.  Their paper was circulated every Thursday and letting the public to market their used items in it for free produced JunkMail a success.  The paper would be handed around and phonecalls made and second hand goods were purchased and sold in this manner.  When junk-mail saw their enterprise becoming dated, they joined up using their sister organization CapeAds located in the Western Cape.

The www – Armageddon for JunkMail Cars

And so this program that had been working for well over ten years abruptly felt the pressure of the information highway and it’s absolutely free enterprise model.  Print media, which had to spend editorial groups, printers, and supply of these various papers and mags didn’t see this coming, therefore the threat of the internet did not appear that fatal.  For us, the advantage of not needing to watch for another copy to look at second hand VW deals, meant that we accommodated the web quickly – we just sought for it and found it. there and then.  JunkMail and CapeAds, whose bread-and-butter was printing papers where slow to adapt to the internet or counter the change, thereby damaging them really.  Moreover, many in the company resisted even though the hints where there…  For a while you can access the most recent listings the moment they were printed online, but you nevertheless needed to pay the R18 access fee.  It was cumbersome and catchy.  JunkMail floundered, and virtually joined a long record of other print publications whose bottom lines where extorted by the internet  where new businesses, including Gumtree boomed by being free, and only available on the internet.

All isn’t lost

It was time for a change and also the very best element of JunkMail – in this case the used cars segment, was changed into Auto Mart. What this means is that Auto Mart had an immediate head start to establishing relationships with car dealers and offering them worth.  And so, just over ten years past the Auto Mart web site was registered and opened for business.  It was probably not smooth sailing as well as though they lost plenty of ground to these new adversaries, they could continue together with the area of the paper that attracted the most visitors and turn it in to a feasible used automobile sales device.