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Edmunds To Launch What They Call a GroupOn for Dealers

 

MediaPost reported today that Edmunds is launching a new program called “Edmunds Exclusives” modeled on a Groupon – but offering locally targeted deals on new and used cars.

The details are here: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=152186&nid=127740

The program (now in beta in South Florida, but slated to roll out to other US markets this summer, and then nationally), gives ready-to-buy car shoppers access to local car deals directly at Edmunds.com. The goal, says Edmunds, is to give dealers and OEMs who have excess or slow-moving inventory a new way to move those cars.

They describe it as “cash-back, financing and leasing deals from dealers,” although it may also expand to include “deals on repairs and parts, maintenance and body shops, aftermarket audio dealers and auto broker services.” They’re starting by simply offering invitations to Edmunds.com visitors, but after it rolls out in other markets they will be “sending consumers direct offers through search strategies.”

Some Thoughts:

Given that Groupon is the fastest-growing company in the history of the world…And given that there are HUNDREDS of full-blown “daily deal” and group buying sites in the US alone (with dozens servicing a single city). And given new GroupOn clones are sprouting up for every vertical imaginable…it’s not surprising news.

The new Edmunds model, of course, seems to be actually quite different than a GroupOn. The social/group buying - i.e., the group - aspect can’t be there, given the offer is for specific car models. And it’s not in real-time, Edmunds notes, because the cycle is logically based on the auto industry’s monthly sales targets/cycle. It does channel that wildly popular, just-for-members deal-offer-model that has become a global mania.

Car dealers suddenly have a lot of group-buying/daily deal sites to mull over: the Groupons of course – but also the brand-new Google Offers, Facebook Deals – and now the car-sales-specific Edmunds Exclusives.

This is a massive market and the hottest online category: comScore just predicted that the group-buying market will triple to $3 billion this year.

As more car dealers dip their toes into daily deal and group buying sites (whether with straight up deals like a super-discounted oil changes or maintenance jobs at a GroupOn - or by promoting cash-back or financing deals for new and used cars via an Edmunds), they will have to be sure (like the restaurants and spas that having been doing this for years), that they carefully set the right parameters for the deal. I.e., that the deal is strong and attractive enough, but at the same time manageable. And as with all marketing investments, that they carefully track their ROI – did it drive new customers that became repeat customers, generate incremental revenue over time, etc?

By Merla Turner, Director of Dealer Training at eXteresAUTO. (Rated #1 by dealers for both SEO and Online Reputation Management at this site)

If you have questions, you can contact her at m.turner@exteres.com or 866-994-2613

Eric Miltsch
I've tracked the possibilities with Groupon and others for a long time now and have done a lot of research on this, yet I'm still cautious with these type of programs for a couple of reasons: existing thin margins and the lack of a simple management system for the people managing these deals at the store level. Merla nails it in her last paragraph when she mentions tracking the parameters - these items are the key to financial success: When will you reach your breakeven point? Did it increase revenue? How much is being spent out of pocket? How much is being given away? (top line revenue) How much are you lowering gross margin? Once you know this, a process needs to be in place to track the following: Which customers are new & which are returning? What's the retention rate? What's your average order for a retained customer? What's the 12 month value of a repeat customer? How long does it take for you to reach breakeven on these customers and how long are you willing to wait? Are you prepared to track all of this?
Merla Turner
Excellent cautionary advice, Eric! As I noted, small businesses like restaurants, etc. have been doing this for some time - and there have been the horror stories. The small spa that sells 5,000 super-discounted massages that can't manage the "flash mobs" that rush in - can't provide the right service so they come back - and forgot that the whole point of these deal initiatives is to drive new customers to RETAIN them. And then they went out of business. Every business that gets involved with the new deal/group-buying/online "offers" platforms need to make sure they set the right deal, have the bandwidth/system in place to capture them and all their info, and give them a reason then and there to come back (set the appt.). Businesses get caught up in the thrill of the Groupon hordes rushing in, until all those people rush right out and onto next deal. I.e., your service dept. could get paralyzed doing 500 $10 oil changes. And remember: Groupon typically takes about a 50% cut of the sales (a pretty nice model for having the country's best email list!) All the deal sites (Google Offers, Facebook, the Groupons, Bing Business Portal, now Edmunds) have such different systems/deal structuring...Everybody has been talking about needing a social media person/manager in their store - but if you want to get into the online deal space right, it will take time and ongoing management. So, that would need to be recognized as part of their job description. And I know the obvious deals discussed for dealers revolve around the service dept (those old oil changes, etc.) - but I think the more creative and attractive dealers get with their offers, the more success they will have. Thanks! Merla

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