Buying a car becoming as easy as buying a can of Coke, sounds amazing, right?
Well, that’s a crazy experience you’ll be able to enjoy very soon in China.
Indeed, China’s online shopping giant Alibaba announced recently that they will open several Tmall cat-shaped vending machines dedicated to cars in 2018.
This project has been funded regarding Alibaba’s strategy to integrate its online sales platforms with offline retail.
In fact, the e-commerce company recently invested around 3$ billion in the hypermarket operator Sun Art, but this new project is one of the best examples of its strategy to date.
Alibaba said it will open two stores in January, one in Shanghai and the other in Nanjing, to begin. The plan is then to open dozens more outlets across China through the year.
Concretely, how does it work?
First, you have to use your phone to scan any car you’d like to test, and potentially buy thanks to Alibaba’s Taobao app.
Once the app recognized the vehicle, you can select it and pick a color of your choice.
Then, you’ll have to enter some basic information, take a selfie and schedule a test drive if the vehicle is available.
According to your status in the Alibaba Membership program, you may have to pay a caution if you’re not a Super Member.
Once at one of the Test-Drive Centers, your identity is verified by facial recognition (thanks to the selfie taken before). After that, you’re able to pick up your vehicle for a test drive, up to three days or buy it directly.
To prevent the potential abuses of the system, users are limited to one test drive of each model with no more than five test drives in the first two months of the program.
An innovative car buying experience
“Our thinking behind the Car Vending Machine is focused on helping users solve certain problems they face in the car-buying process. To do that, we are building a physical, experiential store that offers staffless car pickup through facial-recognition, three-day ‘deep’ test-drives, and a one-stop-shop that displays all mainstream brands at once,” declared Huan Lu, marketing director of Tmall’s automotive division.
Vending machine car showrooms, although really futurist and innovative, aren’t really a new concept. In fact, one has been launched in Singapore this year, and other projects in Germany and Nashville (USA) have been established for some time.
This new move will definitely help Alibaba in his retail industry reshaping strategy, and it’s just the beginning.