Alibaba believes in selling things online and through apps, and is taking this to the next logical step. The company has released a video detailing its plans for a car vending machine; one that will allow customers to purchase new vehicles without ever having to speak to another human being.
At the centre of this interaction (or lack of it) is the Taobao app. Users will be able to take pictures of cars that they would like to try, and the app will locate a vehicle for a test drive. Arranging a test requires a selfie to be taken for verification, and then all the customer has to do is get to the appropriate giant Tmall vending machine.
Each test drive lasts for up to three days, after which the customer can arrange to buy the car outright; or select a different vehicle to try out. All of which happens within the Taobao app.
Financing options are also offered through Alibaba’s Ant Financial arm; so the company will be able to issue personal loans as well. Part of the benefit of owning most of the supply chain.
Of course, there is a catch to all this. The test drive is only free for Alibaba Super Members who have a certain score on the Zhima credit service. Otherwise, there is a down payment for taking a vehicle for a spin. That said, it’s unclear how expensive this option will be.
Selling cars online isn’t a new thing for Alibaba, it already does that over Tmall. That is new in this instance is the adoption of its online-to-offline-to-online shopping experience. Blurring the difference between the internet and a physical shop.
The company plans to open two stores in January, one in Shanghai and one in Nanjing; with plans for more in the future.