Online giant, Alibaba Group, is venturing into the vending machine business, and although the company is not looking to sell soft drinks and snacks, it is offering its Chinese consumers the option to purchase a brand new car this way.
According to the Financial Times as soon as next year, Alibaba’s Tmall ecommerce platform will be offering its users the capability to shop for new cars on their mobile devices, and pick them up from a massive vertical vending machine.
Consumers who have good credit from Alibaba’s Sesame Credit will be required to put 10% down for their new vehicle and make monthly payments via its Alipay digital payment service.
Consumers in China are already comfortable with purchasing cars over the internet. The FT pointed to Maserati, which was able to sell 100 vehicles in only 18 seconds during a Tmall flash sale. Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo, the Italian car company ran a similar sale and sold 350 Giulia Milano cars in 33 second, reported the FT, citing data from Alibaba. For the last 10 years, China has been the largest auto market with car sales totaling 28 million in 2016.
The move on the part of Alibaba to sell cars via vending machine is part of its offline-online retail vision in which the new buzzword signifies the ability of mobile platforms to facilitate the interaction between traditional offline business and their customers online through mobile apps.
However, Alibaba is not the first to sell vehicles this way. Last year used car seller Autobahn Motors opened its futuristic showroom in Singapore, with vehicles on display in 60 slots just like chocolate bars or sodas, as well as US-based automotive portal Carvarna.com, with locations in Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
Is it the way of the future? It could very well be. There was a time when purchasing anything online was unfathomable, and now it is as run-of-the-mill as going to the corner store for milk. So buying a vehicle from a vending machine may just be “the next big thing.”