Amazonification

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When we heard rumblings from Canadian Hyundai dealers about a disruptive and innovative mall-based dealership that had opened in England, we decided we needed to visit and figure out what the fuss was all about.

There’s a lot to fuss about.

While Audi City has often been touted as the digital dealership of the future, and it’s certainly innovative, the Hyundai Rockar experiment that’s happening in some of the largest shopping malls in London, England is actually more intriguing.

For some, it could be viewed as the beginning of the end for the traditional dealership that earns its revenues from new and used vehicle sales, parts and service, and finance and insurance products, all sold under one roof in a purpose-built, large footprint facility.

For others, it could simply be an experiment by an OEM that is curious to experiment with new direct to consumer sales models, and part of a broader global effort to modernize the car buying journey for customers.

So what is it exactly? It’s really just another step towards the Amazonification of cars.

Already, one in every five dollars spent on e-commerce in North America goes to Amazon, and since 2010 that has grown at almost 30 per cent per year. For those who know Amazon well, the company has also aggressively reinvested in its operations every year, building an incredible infrastructure that has — and will continue to — redefine the consumer experience of buying things online.

When Amazon launched, first selling mostly books, consumers were intrigued and delighted at how easy it was to navigate the site.

As Amazon has expanded, and its offerings have grown to cover almost anything imaginable, generations of consumers are now conditioned to order virtually anything online. They don’t think twice about it.

That’s why it was so intriguing to watch shoppers configuring and ordering cars online from large touchscreens in the Hyundai Rockar dealership. They were happily picking their models, financing terms, colours, accessories and could then buy the vehicle and come back seven days later to pick it up — or have it delivered to their home like a book or consumer electronic product.

As many as 60 per cent of Rockar’s customers complete the purchase online and many from their homes or other locations.

For years, in the pages of this magazine and at industry events, experts have been debating if and when consumers would actually be ready to buy cars entirely online. That day is now here and it doesn’t look or feel the least bit strange. That’s what is the most strange.

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