Alibaba Announces Plans For Car-Vending Machines

Tmall, Alibaba’s business-to-consumer platform, has announced a plan that will see cars sold through vending machines. Buyers who have had their credit approved will be able to use their mobile phones to browse cars kept in a warehouse consisting of several storeys. When the shoppers make their choice the car they have picked is tehn delivered to the ground floor.

According to a study conducted by McKinsey on digital consumers in China about a third of the respondents indicated willingness to purchase cars via online stores. Another study done by US consultancy firm L2 reported that majority of car buyers in China were very clear on what kind of car they desired and would thus appreciate a way of acquiring one that is hassle-free and quick.

“A majority of Chinese buyers already know what model they want before visiting a dealership, and online research is a key influence factor. More than half of Chinese consumers are willing to purchase a car online,” the report said.

Luxury car sector

Yet another study conducted by Capgemini Consulting observed that among the various markets in the world, shoppers in China were highly likely to buy a car online. In the study about 77% of those interviewed said they would have no problems making a car purchase online.

The luxury car sector is disproportionately represented in China’s online sales channels and this has made the e-commerce market for vehicles in the country very robust. Chinese shoppers looking for luxury brands are unlikely to haggle over prices and they are also used to buying vehicles prior to taking a test drive or even viewing.

According to McKinsey the turning point for the Chinese online vehicle shopping sector came three years ago during Alibaba’s Singles Day when 170,000 vehicles were ordered online in one day. Since then the popularity of online car shopping took off.

Sales promotion events

Besides Singles Day which is held on November 11 every year, the Chinese online retail giant has also experimented with other promotions in order to boost the sales of motor vehicles online. In 2016 100 Maserati cars were sold in a matter of 18 seconds on Tmall in a flash sale. Earlier this year Alfa Romeo sold 350 of its Giulia Milano cars in 33 seconds on Tmall.

Car vending facilities already exist in Singapore where a dealership known as Autobahn Motors has a15-storey building serving as a motor vehicle warehouse. The facility has floor-to-ceiling windows and this allows for viewing from the street.

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