Hyundai Launches Digital Showroom on Amazon to Better Reach Customers

Replicating the car dealership experience online has historically been a challenge.

Although many of us have grown to prefer the ease and convenience of shopping online, there’s nothing quite like kicking the tires of a vehicle in person. Because cars are one of the most expensive purchases many of us will make, it’s especially important to feel confident about what we’re getting for our hard-earned cash.

Enter Amazon. As the e-commerce giant continues to gobble a seemingly endless chunk of retail market share, even industries that do the bulk of their business face-to-face are seeking Amazon’s help to connect with customers.

This week, Hyundai unveiled a new digital showroom on Amazon that allows customers to scan a particular dealership’s inventory, read owner reviews, compare pricing, and schedule test drives. Shoppers can also use the page to navigate the various discounts being offered by local dealerships.

Although just about every car company is represented in the Amazon Vehicles portion of the site, Hyundai is the first to present a branded online showroom in this way.

“This collaboration with Amazon provides customers with the ability to learn about Hyundai vehicles in a way that matches their expectations for nearly every other type of purchase,” Tim Maxwell, senior group manager of digital marketing for Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement. “Hyundai and its dealers are modernizing the car buying process, so it made sense for us to be the first car company with its own digital showroom.”

Hyundai began its relationship with Amazon in 2016, when the carmaker debuted what it called a first-to-market, on-demand vehicle test drive program that shoppers in the Los Angeles area could access through Amazon Prime Now—but the only vehicle on offer through the service was the 2017 Elantra, and the program only ran for two weekends. Hyundai also says it was the first “mainstream automaker” to connect cars with homes via Amazon Echo and the Blue Link skill for Amazon Alexa.

In an unrelated interview with PureCars CEO Sam Mylrea last spring, we asked him why buying cars online has never truly taken off as an entirely digital experience. PureCars describes itself as a data-driven company that provides auto dealerships with marketing automation and services that create deeper, more successful relationships with customers.

Car shoppers tend to browse online, Mylrea said, and then head to a dealership to actually make the purchase. (The typical shopper, he added, visits 1.4 dealerships before buying anything.) That’s still the case with Hyundai’s Amazon showroom—it’s not possible to order an Elantra through the e-retailer for delivery … yet.

“There’s a massive amount of activity online, but the purchases are made offline,” he explained. “Today, the industry is not great at connecting the two.”

Companies like PureCars, Cars.com, and CarGurus are making the research process much easier and facilitating the customer-dealership relationship, but automakers would like to own the entire online car-buying experience.

Hyundai hopes to change the current dynamic by allowing customers to click through to its main site from the Amazon showroom, and take advantage of “streamlined purchase options,” the company said in a press release. However, shoppers would still need to travel to a dealership to finalize the purchase and drive off into the sunset.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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