While handling the mandate of an automobile brand a few years ago, in one of my agency stints, I recall suggesting to launch the pre-booking and test-drive booking of an upcoming model via Flipkart or Amazon. It had never been done before that period in India.
My idea was not to dislodge or antagonize their existing dealer network. It was simply based on a PR tactic, to be the first in India to ‘launch’ a car on a popular e-commerce channel and gain mindshare and visibility using that claim. The car’s inherent quality still has to do the selling anyway, and dealers would need to actually deliver the car.
The client thought it was too preposterous an idea at that time and didn’t go with it. Eventually, cars have been launched and sold on Amazon, in India.
Like the Nissan Micra.
Or the MINI Cooper.
Or even the Ford range.
To be sure, you can’t get them with a 2-day Prime delivery. These are booking amounts and a conventional dealer would still do the actual delivery.
Here’s L2 worrying on a much broader level about Amazon’s potential disruption on automobile retail (US-centric). Like the way cinema theaters are being disintermediated by Netflix and Amazon Prime, do you think the way we buy automobiles would also be disintermediated by e-commerce? It’s not as easy as it sounds because the supply chain behind automobiles is a lot more complex, and the e-commerce brand taking on the responsibility of retailing them also needs some control on the back-end. In a way, it is like e-commerce for furniture, but perhaps 10X more complex than that.