HEY, WANNA BUY A CAR?- We hear that Tmall, the Alibaba Group-owned B2C shopping site, is looking at introducing "car vending machines" in China which, if we understand this correctly, will do away with endless visits to local car dealerships, kicking tyres and arguing over price with a smart-ass car salesman.
All it takes is a tap on the touchscreen of your mobile phone where you can browse the cars stored in a massive garage-like structure, plus another tap to make an initial payment, and voila, your car is ready for delivery.
According to Yu Wei, general manager of Tmall’s automotive division, “It will make buying cars as easy as buying a can of Coke.” The first such vending machines are expected to become available in China later this year and will allow mobile shoppers with good credit scores to purchase their new ride in only five minutes.
If you qualify for Alibaba’s credit-scoring system for consumers, you can select a model online, pay a 10% initial fee and pick up your new car. All the on-line purchaser will need to do is to make monthly payments through Alipay until the car is paid in full.
Through Alibaba’s “new automotive retail model,” introduced in June, about 1,500, or 5%, of the 30,000 cars sold on Tmall within the first three days of the new payment model’s launch were purchased by consumers using this system.
During a flash sale on Tmall to mark the opening of its flagship store on the B2C platform, Maserati last year sold 100 cars in 18 seconds, while fellow Italian luxury car brand Alfa Romeo followed with its own flash sale last March, selling 350 Giulia Milano cars in 33 seconds.
Not surprisingly, luxury vehicle brands are rapidly expanding online in China to reach the country’s affluent and digitally active consumers, prompting Tmall’s Mr Yu to declare that “The era of online car shopping has already arrived.”
Easy as buying a Coke from a vending machine