Supermarket sweep up

  13 February 2017

If it’s not a threat from the latest online start-up, the Next Big Thing could be your local supermarket offering shoppers a shiny new car with their cornflakes. Although picking up a Skoda in Sainsbury’s might be a little way off, US consumers have been able to arrange the purchase of a new vehicle when visiting Costco for a while now, and others have followed.

Now there’s news that big-hitter Walmart has joined the fray. It’s teaming up with retailer AutoNation in an initiative dubbed Carsaver. Where other start-ups have elected to cut out the auto retailer entirely, Walmart’s scheme places AutoNation representatives in-store to initiate contacts. Good news, then, that traditional auto retailers are involved. Even better is the news that, once contact with a prospective buyer has been made, the buyer is put in touch with the nearest bricks and mortar AutoNation retailer to complete the sale. The all-important human connection is made, the buyer saves some money – everyone’s happy.

And for all the doom and gloom being preached about how online will kill the traditional auto retail experience, this ‘partnership’ approach could be viewed as one of the ways forward in an ever-challenging trading environment.

When footfall is dropping, even if it’s only a seasonal trend, the need to attract the eye of potential customers in their natural habitat – not yours – is important. Sure, the trend for glossy boutique outlets in shopping malls is a great innovation, but it’s certainly not the only solution. Maybe the prospect of canvassing in the fruit and veg aisle isn’t as glamorous, but it’s got to be better than looking at tumbleweed.

Iain Dooley

Editor, Agenda

Auto Retail Network

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