• Car buyers are browsing online but completing the final transactions offline
  • The dealership users have to use both the CRM and AutoFi to create an effective sales journey
  • AutoFi lender partners want to see more transactions through the platform
  • Most automobile transactions, with traditional automotive dealerships, happen inside the physical showroom (pre-COVID-19)
  • Dealerships primarily saw AutoFi as a tool to assist consumers on monthly payment pricing - and not as a transaction tool to buy the car online
  • Dealerships prefer to use their own transaction tools to finalize the lending process
  • Car buyers are not confident buying a car 100% online (AKA too good to be true) 

The Opportunity

  • Almost 90% of vehicle sales transactions happen at the dealership (in-store or at the customer driveway in 2020)
  • This paradigm shift forced dealerships to adopt digital retail tools at a rapid pace
  • This shift also made dealerships change the customer sales process from "how soon can you come to the showroom?" to "how do you want me to get the car to you?"
  • The landscape of "in-store" software lacked the sophistication and flexibility the customers demanded, including good mobile experiences and communication tools
  • The competitors could only participate in the sales process after the transaction, which allowed AutoFi to educate the customer earlier in the process - building trust with the car buyer
  • James saw ways to empower both the car buyer and the salesperson with real-time pricing, via smartphones or tablets, to make a purchase decision during the test drive


  • James created a 90-Day Plan to validate and define the product viability and scope
  • Identified the dealership gatekeepers, who were keeping AutoFi from expanding deeper in the sales transaction funnel
  • Created a cohort of interested customers, named AutoFi Insiders, so James can reach out to them for quick feedback and formal user testing
  • Conducted interviews with dealership owners, sales managers, and F&I managers
  • James learned dealership financing tools like RouteOne and DealerTrack, including specific lender financing tools at CapitalOne, Westlake, and Santander
  • Embraced the day-to-day routines and motivations of salespeople, sales managers, F&I managers
  • Prototype, prototype, prototype! Over 7 prototypes were built and tested until the F&I managers saw this as "a total gamechanger"
  • Tested early versions of the working product at pilot dealerships to make sure this product was ready for primetime
  • Recruited car buyers on CraigsList and conducted user testing to validate the experience is delightful and empowering for the consumer


  • After meeting with over 50 dealerships, James discovered methods to boost Per Vehicle Retail (PVR) averages
  • James' research and user testing convinced the AutoFi leadership team to make massive changes to the current platform
  • James' relationships with dealerships provided insight into product adoption strategies
  • Dealership users scored the in-store product 9.3 out of 10 satisfaction (conducted by someone else to prevent bias)
  • This product is being rolled out to dealerships with CRM integrations
  • James is going on-store to observe usage and getting training content
  • The prodyct required minimal training, less than 30 minutes, to learn the product and some users did not require any training
  • Due to an outdated website, James also redesigned the AutoFi site through user testing design, content and messaging with his AutoFi Insiders:

Tasks Required to Accomplish Goals

  • Field research
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Branding (website design)
  • Design System
  • Project Management
  • UI & Interaction Design (via Figma)