BMW Online Purchases

For years, e-commerce sales have grown for all sectors of the world’s economy—and BMWs have been no exception. Speaking with Forbes senior contributor John Koetsier on his TechFirst podcast, BMW’s senior VP Jens Thiemer made the claim that the company believes that in just three years’ time 25% of its sales will come from online. “Well, first of all, our intention is to make the customer sales journey—and the customer journey in general—as fascinating as possible,” says Thiemer. “So of course in that context, it’s very important to make it digital.”

BMW envisions customers purchasing through the BMW app, along with subscription-based services like active cruise control. “Some things are pre-built in the hardware already,” Theimer said. “The rest is software, you just release it. And of course at the end, you pay per month or you pay per year, whatever.”

The My BMW App helps owners schedule service for their cars; can also give you early warnings for maintenance issues that need to be addressed. “In former years when those apps were occurring, they were kind of remote controls for your car,” says Theimer. Today, those apps are your bloodline to the brand. So we are creating a community system there. Of course, you can go back and forth: send data from the car to the app, or from the app into the car, or just addresses.”

However, while the online experience grows, Thiemer doesn’t see dealerships going away. “I think it would be stupid to give that up,” he says, “because it is—even if there’s a huge trend to direct sale—a huge advantage that we are having those contact people out there. And imagine, or keep in mind, there are many, many things in an automotive customer journey which will stay physical.”

One key change that some will love and others may hate: fixed prices. Because it’s difficult to integrate haggling into an app, pricing will become fixed. This is something that BMW already has experience with via its CPO program, where the prices are firmly set. In any case, sometime very soon, you could be getting your new BMW without even speaking to a salesperson.—Edward Tamsberg

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