Laurent Potel's interview | Reezocar
Innovation Insider with Laurent Potel CEO of Reezocar | Jean-Hugues Devolvé CGI Finance | Didier Lallemand - SG Ventures
Laurent, tell us what Reezocar offers and how your customers benefit?
Our platform offers consumers the largest choice of cars to research and buy, professional certification of vehicles plus a range of other products and services. We started in 2014 with used cars and since December we have started offering new vehicles and leasing.
If you see a car 500 kms away from your home, you wouldn’t go and see it unless you were sure you were going to buy it. By making the process safe and sound, we’ve developed a whole solution to buying a car from your home - distance purchasing. We source cars from all over Europe and - for the moment - we mainly sell them in France.
Where did you get the idea for the start-up?
Three of us set the company in 2014 because we wanted to provide people with the perfect experience in buying a second-hand car, by making it easy and safe.
When we started, there wasn’t a website that gathered all the for-sale car ads on one platform, so the search process was annoying and time-consuming. Based on my own experience of buying a car, I felt quite useless in the whole process: you go and see a car and ask some random questions about it. A person only buys a car every six or seven years and, unlike a professional, they will only have a small amount of time and won’t have the skills to assess the car properly. The problem in the car industry is this asymmetry or mismatch of information that leads to a very poor customer experience. This is what we set out to address when we founded Reezocar.
What is your business model?
Reezocar is about attracting large numbers of people to its website and selling cars from anywhere to anywhere. It’s really focused on the car purchase by the consumer. We don’t have advertising and we don’t sell data. We make a margin on the services we provide, including the purchase of the car, its registration, professional certification and handling any manufacturer warranties. We also make money when there is a delivery of the car. The financing and insuring of the car aren’t something we do ourselves, but we distribute these products notably through our integration with Societe Generale.
The car market’s a crowded space so what do you do differently?
The majority of players only sell cars that they own, whereas we sell cars from anywhere for anyone. That’s a huge differentiator. We are on the same side as the consumer. The first thing we sell is trust. Once we have sold trust, then it’s much easier to accompany the customer. That’s the difference: we can sell any car from anywhere. As a customer you can buy it with cash, with credit or having leasing on it. We will deliver the car and have it professionally certified. We want to be the best customer experience you can have when it comes to buying a car.
What are the keys to your success?
We believe our business model is the most virtuous in the market. The 2.5 million visitors to our French website each month have come through natural growth - through SEO (search engine optimisation) and recommendations, - so we believe we have a business that is durable and healthy.
The market as a whole has been badly impacted by Covid-19. It was a huge stress test for us last year and we showed our resilience. We produced growth – we doubled in size last year – and we are still on target to double this year. Obviously, we’d prefer it when the market is working normally.
Clearly the partnership with Societe Generale has been important. We chose to partner with Societe Generale because we found it was the most dynamic, active and digital in the market. We shared the same analysis, vision and ambition to build a global leader together.
Has the relationship with Societe Generale changed since December?
Societe Generale’s first investment was a minority stake in 2018, when it was much more about starting to work together and building the product. Since December 2020, it’s been much more about developing products at Reezocar - like integrating insurance - and we have many more in the pipeline. We also want to deploy Reezocar products in the retail banks of Societe Generale and Credit du Nord because a lot of their customers could be interested in what we offer. That’s a huge synergy in our road map.
In June we have 50 employees joining us from Societe Generale in Lille, where we will open an office for them. They were doing the same job that we do and it is one that we want to develop. We’re really happy to welcome them. It’s a big, positive move and interesting to see that we have made it only several months since December’s transaction.
What are the long-term prospects for Reezocar and your sector?
Over the last few years car purchases in France have been switching from credit to leasing, where financing is a key input. Every customer journey starts on the web, so at the very beginning of the car-buying process you need to have a strong leasing and financing offer in place.
We want to be a leading platform and through our integration with Societe Generale, we have the best ticket to do it. In three or four years we want Reezocar to be front of mind for customers, of the Societe Generale Group and elsewhere, when it comes to leasing or buying their next car. We also want to deploy elsewhere in Europe.
Jean-Hugues, how has the Reezocar partnership helped CGI Finance?
Car availability is a major investment for most people, second only to buying a home, and CGI Finance has been providing financing solutions to consumers through car dealerships for decades.
“As a market leader we need to remain relevant to our customers and Reezocar gives us an advantage in a dynamic and evolving market”.
As more customers favour leasing over buying a car, we have been adapting to the changes in the customer journey so that we can offer the relevant financing, insurance and other services. Reezocar enjoys a powerful online presence that empowers customers by addressing the information deficit that Laurent described, providing greater choice and a more personalised approach. It’s meant that CGI Finance, as well as Assu, can complement this offer by providing products and services tailored to the customer. It has been a fruitful partnership so far and it is set to become significantly more beneficial in the future.