When will Amazon.com sell Toyota Camry?

Mike J
Amazon.com has been selling $26K Tractors on their site for a few years now. http://www.amazon.com/NorTrac-Tractor-Wheel-Drive-Model/dp/B000NOPDUA?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1183072809&sr=1-1 What I found more interesting is that they pay 4% to their associates. For growth strategy, Should a car dealer use an associate program like Amazon.com?
JoE Drosen
Pricegrabber.com was trying to get into that "direct" sale approach many years ago. I'm guessing that they may have fallen into pitfalls with the manufacturers, franchise laws, and what not. I know personally, my dealership is forbidden to advertise cars on overstock.com... as Honda does not want to be associated with the terms overstock, clearance, etc. I really think auto manufacturers need to look at VW and what they've accomplished. I remember a time when the only way you could purchase certain color VW Beetles was to pre-order them through a VW website. I just did a google search and found that they are back at it with the 2012 Beetle. Check out: http://bit.ly/keyOFR If we WERE to sell on Amazon.com... what harm could that do you ask? I will only speak for Honda products. We are not allowed to advertise a car BELOW invoice (except when that is a lease payment). This may cause customers to not engage the Honda brand, as the selling price of Honda CAN be below invoice... that's just my 2¢
Brian Marchini
Well, it isn't amazon that is selling it. If you look, it is a third party seller selling through amazon.com. There is a difference. Regardless, I don't see this happening in the future on a wide scale. Selling like this is a niche at best. It has been tried and failed multiple times. I remember when I got into the business in '96 that everyone was convinced showrooms would no longer be necessary in 5-10 years. Guess where that went? It failed horribly. The most effective strategy to sell a car is set an appointment and bring people in. In all reality, the online marketplace is a communications tool. People don't seem to get that. I remember a non-internet savy manager telling me once that the person would have to come in because we couldn't fit the car through the phone yet. The funny thing is, that isn't entirely innacurate. Still, this idea persists that people will eventually buy online and have their car delivered without ever coming into a showroom. And this myth is perpuated by the few cases where this actually does happen. As a rule, most folks still want to visit and drive the car before they buy it. It is an expensive product and people hesitate making the big purchases online (yes, we know you would be ok with it, but most won't). But I think you would agree with me. Should you use amazon.com? It depends on the ROI. You can't take the philosphy of advertising anywhere and everywhere if you can make a sale especially in this day and age. I don't see buyer's going there for cars. I don't know anyone that would because it isn't known for cars.... right now. You need to fish where the fish are. Will amazon open up a cars.com/autotrader/ebaymotors type branch and really push it? If you think they will, you probably do not know amazon that well. I think the more likely scenario is that they will acquire a company that has what they are looking for and incorporating it into the amazon umbrella as they did with Zappos and Woot.
Alex Schoeneberger
Is the myth perpetuated by the few cases that selling a car online and taking delivery at someone's office or home occurs or is it that providing this type of sales experience has been made so difficult by manufacturers, dealers, a lack of vendor solutions, and probably even laws and regulations that consumers that would like to have that experience can't find a way to get it done without a ton of hassle? Change is inevitable and this change sounds like something that is realistic for people who either know what they want to buy or look at their cars as appliances, which is unfortunately most buyers. I agree that many will still want to drive their expensive vehicle before they buy, but what happens when most cars drive themselves 10 or 20 years from now? Will people care about test drives anymore? For that matter, what about consumers who would like to go on test drives, go home, negotiate the deal from their home, and take delivery at home or work? Has anyone thought to ask consumers what they want?
Brian Marchini
"sales experience has been made so difficult by manufacturers, dealers, a lack of vendor solutions, and probably even laws and regulations that consumers that would like to have that experience can't find a way to get it done without a ton of hassle? " If anything, I think it has been made better by manufacturers and dealers. Dealerships and manufacturers are going out of their way to accomodate customers more so than ever in the history of the business. Most of the "hassle" is created by customers shopping around looking for the "best price". "Change is inevitable and this change sounds like something that is realistic for people who either know what they want to buy or look at their cars as appliances, which is unfortunately most buyers." The only constant is change. It is always ongoing and not something in the future... it is now. That being said, we know that 80-90% of shoppers go online and shop first, but only 2-10% of online shoppers convert into a lead. What happens to the other 90+%? They come into the dealership or call in. At most, you are currently looking at 5% who would actually choose to buy online and have it delivered to their door without driving or seeing it in person themselves. Vehicles are an exception and always will be until they are not a major purchase. When cars cost as much as a TV, it might change... but until then it won't for some time. What will happen 20 years out? It is honestly too hard to tell. Would any of us imagined what our current day to day lives would be like in 1991? It was rare to see a bag phone, there were no search engines, online marketplaces, chatrooms, facebooks. Mail order catalogs were the main venue for purchase to ship items. I can almost guarantee that future online shopping 20 years out will not be what we know as online shopping today. For all we know, we will be looking at holygraphic test drives and the like. But that is not the point of this article. In reading the post, it seems the question is weather amazon.com is a viable selling tool in its CURRENT form. To this, I would say the ROI would probably not currently be there.
Alex Schoeneberger
Brian - I'd like to clarify my statement... the way the first quote was pasted in, it looks like I'm referring to the entire sales process. I'm only referring to the concept of buying a car online. I agree that dealers and manufacturers have come a long way in embracing changes to improve customer experience. I disagree that the consumer behavior of trying to get a good deal is creating "hassle" for the consumer. Consumers effectively use this to negotiate a better price before entering the dealership. That is hassle for dealers, but not for consumers. It keeps them from having to drive around dealer to dealer. I agree that more people are walk-ins than submit leads online. I am just wondering if those walk-ins would prefer to show up for a test drive and then conduct the rest of their business from their living room and have the car delivered to their office on Monday. Do they come in because they want to negotiate and sign paperwork at the dealership or do they come in because they want a test drive? I think there is a chance the ROI is there if this type of sales process is defined and implemented for customers who want that experience. I also think the opportunity for ROI will continue to increase in the future.

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