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50% Shifts Gears

Cars site Edmunds is beginning to transform itself into a place where consumers can buy the cars they are researching.

Online cars site is making a subtle but important strategic change. Until now, it's been a place where consumers did research on what make and model car was right for them. Now, it's becoming a place where consumers can learn about specific cars they can buy.

It's a step in the direction of the ultimate goal of getting as much of the car-buying process online as possible.

Until now, consumers visiting were asked to select criteria for cars they were looking to buy. They entered the make and model, new or used. Alternately, they could start with the kind of vehicle they were looking to buy -- SUV, sedan, truck, minivan, and so on -- and then look for options.

But starting this month, Edmunds will prominently display specific vehicles available for sale right away.

The new website is currently being tested to 30% of site visitors. Edmunds plans to announce it Thursday, and make it live for everyone Oct. 15.

"We're in the business of trying to make car-buying easier. In the past, we helped people decide what kind of car they wanted but were hands-free on the car-buying process itself," Seth Berkowitz, president and COO of, said in an interview. "Instead of people doing research on theoretical cars, we're giving them information around actual cars. It's a shift in the navigational scheme on how we organize the product."

As an earlier step in this direction, Edmunds rolled out the Price Promise program. Through Edmunds, dealers provide a price commitment in exchange for customer contact information.

"Dealers make promises and then honor them. We're trying to foster trust between consumers and dealers," Berkowitz said. "This is a place where there is a lot of mistrust, and it doesn't need to be that way."

Read the rest of this article on Internet Evolution.

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