Walmart Set to Begin Selling Cars
With the exception of funeral services and stylish clothing, practically anything can be purchased at your local Walmart.
That list now includes automobiles. North America’s largest retailer is edging is way into automotive sales with the help of the nation’s largest new-car dealership franchise, AutoNation.
Launching in April, Walmart’s CarSaver program will make it the perfect middleman for impulse car buyers and local dealerships. CarSaver is designed to allow shoppers to browse, select, finance, and insure a vehicle through its website or at kiosks positioned in outside of the nail salons and vision centers of 25 Walmart Supercenters.
At launch, 16 AutoNation stores in Phoenix, Houston, and Dallas will be participating, said AutoNation Chief Marketing Officer Marc Cannon. All of the dealerships are within 15 miles of a Walmart CarSaver kiosk.
“The right location is very valuable. You want to make sure it’s convenient for your customers,” Cannon told Automotive News. “It’s not just the sale. We want to keep them as a customer and continue to develop the service part of our business.”
The kiosks will also be available in Oklahoma City Supercenters, however, those will be unaffiliated with AutoNation.
Walmart and CarSaver, backed by 20 dealerships, launched a trial version of the program in Florida in April 2016. The vast majority of scheduled appointments — 80 percent — resulted in a sale and, on average, customers saved more than $3,000 off the sticker price. CarSaver’s founders, Sean Wolfington and Chad Collier, claim the program’s fixed pricing, no-pressure, no-haggle policy is what makes it so successful.
“Before I sold my dealerships, I noticed that the leads we bought were also sold to 10 to 15 other dealers, and this hurt our conversion rate and the customer experience because consumers were bombarded by multiple dealers’ emails and calls,” Collier said. “That is also why we deliver appointments rather than leads.”
Typically, CarSaver receives a $350 fee from dealers every time a sale is made using its appointments. Depending on state law, there could be also subscription fee for the service. The program is highly reminiscent of Costco’s automotive buying services, which was a program Wolfington oversaw during his time managing dealerships. “I was impressed with Costco’s program and how much easier it was for the dealership because consumers trusted Costco and appreciated the haggle-free pricing and hassle-free experience,” he said.
Wolfington claims that Costco Auto sells an average of 1,000 new vehicles a year per for every Costco outlet. The Walmart initiative anticipates similar numbers as it expands the platform into more of its 3,500 Supercenters.
A version of this story originally appeared on The Truth About Cars
More by Matt Posky