Few consumer products are too tough for Amazon, and Germany's Automobilwoche reports this week that the online retail is moving into car sales. The online retailer is said to be assembling a Belgium-based business unit that will allow the retailer to offer cars in Europe.
Amazon Vehicles has already offered three models in Italy, acting as an online sales service, with buyers able to pick up the car from a regular dealership within two weeks after choosing from four preset option packages. It now appears the Italy effort was a trial run for a wider business unit launch. Amazon offered vehicles appealing to younger buyers. Consumer research in Italy showed that roughly half of all Italians were willing to buy a car online.
"It is only a question of time before Amazon gets rolling," one market analyst told Automobilwoche. "No industry, no business is too tough for Amazon."
The move is not unprecedented; other automakers, have experimented with concierge sales online , with the only dealership interaction being delivery to the buyer. Several automakers view online sales as an inevitability given the tastes and comfort of millennials with online purchases of big-ticket items -- and their distaste for time-consuming and not completely transparent buying processes at traditional car dealerships. After all, people have bought and sold new cars on eBay Motors for years.
Amazon has already launched a consumer research portal, and the company is reportedly offering test drives of models as a part of a ramp-up to a large-scale launch, a component that will effectively remove the need to visit a traditional dealership for this part of the sales process. The first challenge is building a replacement for the test-drive aspect of the traditional dealership experience -- automakers in the process of planning online sales envision dealerships adopting the role of repair and service stations, new car storage centers and test-drive providers. The sales aspect is expected by some to move entirely online, a step up from photo-realistic online vehicle configurators already available on every automaker's website.
Amazon has stayed mum regarding the launch of this business unit in Europe, and timing remains murky. But baby steps toward online car buying, evidenced by the sales of car models in Italy and the launch of the Amazon Vehicles research portal, suggest that next-day home delivery of a new car is not too far in the future.
Ramey, Jay. (2017). “Would you buy a car from Amazon?” Retrieved from http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/amazon-wants-start-selling-cars-online.