Re-inventing Online Car Buying

Role: lead designer


Identifying Opportunity

The car buying experience has stayed the same for a long time - you research the car you want to buy, go to the dealerships and buy from the place who offers you the lowest price. This model presents two challenges:

  1. The car buying experience is extremely timing consuming. You carve out blocks of time on weekends just to visit from dealership to dealership until you are confident that you've got a good price
  2. From the perspective of car manufacturers (OEMs), allowing consumers to buy from dealerships creates uneven car buying experiences. Each dealer operates as an independent business and uses their own judgements and pricing structure to entice customers when it comes to price, incentives, accessories and services.

History of Unhaggle

When Unhaggle was founded in 2010, the founders of the company had a vision - creating a marketplace where consumers can buy a new vehicle without haggling with dealerships. They created a model based on reverse-auctioning, where nearby dealers submit their best offers to win a consumer's business.

In 2015, Unhaggle became Canada's largest online new car buying service and works with 1,000+ dealerships across the nation serving tens of thousands of car buyers each year.

Coming Up with an Hypothesis

After identifying the current market opportunities, we thought of an hypothesis - a car buyer orders his new vehicle online and a nearby dealer ships the new vehicle to his doorstep. Currently, all major OEMs allow you to build a new vehicle on their website. However, when you're finished building your new vehicle, it merely generates a quote which is an email summary that gets sent to your nearest dealer. The bulk of the work is yet to be done when you visit the dealership to negotiate prices, warranty, protection plans and trade-ins.

We've established the following success criteria for the hypothesis

  • consumers are comfortable with buying their new car completely online
  • OEM partners want to deploy for their own brands

Testing the Hypothesis

Although the idea sounds audacious, we weren't sure if this is something people want and are comfortable with. Will they be able to know what financing they prefer early on? Do they know what accessories they want? What about test drive? To test the hypothesis, we:

  • mocked up the entire process based on our vision
  • recruited early users and invite them into the office to test the checkout flow (especially where they select their protection plans, warranty, payment options and delivery)

Selecting a vehicle

In the first step, a potential car buyer begins with selecting a make and model. As an initial screen, this is designed to let the car buyer to make a decision quickly and move on to the next step. From Unhaggle's experience, most people know the vehicle brand and type they want, for example "BMW 5 series". However, most people don't know the difference between trims (Ford uses "model") of each type, for example "SE" vs "Titanium". In most cases, the difference lies in the engine and horsepower. Here we're using clearly outlined key features and prices differences so the potential car buyer has everything she needs to decide which trim to get.

A design convention we're starting at this stage is the price wizard on the right. As you will discover later, the price wizard is always visible throughout every step of the car buying process.

Select exterior color

Now that they are officially in the car buying funnel, we're displaying a breadcrumb to help people get a sense of where they are in the process and gauge how much long before it reaches the end.

Configure accessories
Select a protection plan

This is the step where the funnel begins to diverge from a traditional online car buying experience.

Review configuration
Select a payment option
Select delivery option


By October 2016, Unhaggle has successfully launched the online car buying platform for Ford and Hyundai Canada.

Globe and Mail article link
Hyundai Genesis live site

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