Alibaba has introduced a car vending machine on Tmall, its online marketplace application, which allows consumers in China to choose from 100 Ford cars for a test drive.
The ‘Super Test-Drive Center’ is located in Guangzhou and consumers can sign up on the Tmall or Taobao app to pick up the selected car through an unmanned car vending machine in the Center and be allowed to test drive the rented car for three days before they decide to make the purchase.
Once a car is chosen, consumers must snap a selfie through the app to ensure they are only person who can take the car from the center, put down a deposit electronically and schedule a pick-up time.
When they are at the Center, customers simply verify their identity with their selfie and the vehicle they selected is delivered from the multi-story car dispensary to the ground floor where the test drive begins.
If they are not totally satisfied, consumers can simply take out another car and can test-drive two vehicles provided they are different models. If they decide to make the purchase after the test drive, they can visit Ford’s retail stores to pay the remaining balance after paying the deposit on Tmall.
Conusmers will also get discounts and other incentives, which are based on consumer insights derived from user activity and history within the Alibaba ecosystem.
"The auto vending machine is an important step in Alibaba's New Retail push. By leveraging Alibaba's data intelligence and technologies, the auto vending machine and super drive test services can enable auto brand owners and distributors better serve their customers," said Gu Wanguo, general manager of vehicles at Tmall Auto.
Wanguo added: "Consumers can use the internet to access more accurate, convenient services and get a deeper understanding into particular vehicles. In the meantime, we are opening our car vending machine’s infrastructure to the entire industry to leverage and enable their distributors, in hopes of helping upgrade the automotive sector as a whole."
Alibaba also said that similar auto vending machines will be built in Beijing and Hangzhou.