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Mercedes-Benz Financial expands mobile strategy to showroom floor

The company is putting the Apple iPad into the hands of its dealers, becoming the first automotive finance company to give dealers mobile access to its point-of-sale dealer system called MB Advantage. In doing so, Mercedes-Benz Financial claims it is one of the first companies to adapt the consumer-oriented iPad as a mobile business tool.

“With the iPad we wanted to do something more dealer-related than the business-to-consumer offerings we have been launching,” said Michael Kanzleiter, senior manager marketing for Mercedes-Benz Financial, Farmington Hills, MI.

“We wanted to bring our dealer platform to the hands of dealers as they are dealing with customers, eliminating the need to lead the customer through the show floor,” he said. “MB Advantage is available to dealers on the desktop.

“We have made it mobile to make dealers more flexible and to help them in the process of selling a car.”

Mercedes-Benz Financial, now in its 28th year of operation, provides financing for Mercedes-Benz dealers’ inventories and their retail customers.

MB Advantage on the iPad will give dealership sales personnel instant access to marketing programs for specific models, quicker turn around time on the credit application process and increased speed and efficiency on the return of lease vehicles.

The size and versatility of the iPad makes it compatible to access MB Advantage via the mobile device and to take the dealer system from the finance and leasing office to the showroom floor.

Mercedes-Benz Financial will distribute iPads to 40 selected dealers throughout the United States to test the platform as a business tool.

The company will monitor iPad usage and collect feedback from dealers and field sales staff over the summer.

Improvements to MB Advantage on iPad, based on dealer feedback, will be incorporated before potentially making the mobile device available to all Mercedes-Benz dealerships later this year.

Since launching its iPhone application in October, which allows Mercedes-Benz Financial customers to make payments on their vehicle lease or loan from their iPhone, Mercedes-Benz Financial has had more than 13,000 downloads, approximately 5,000 payments and $3.6 million in payments received.

That launch was followed in March by giving customers who use smartphones the same capability to manage their Mercedes-Benz Financial accounts from their mobile devices. That has resulted in over 15,000 visitors, more than 2,000 payments and $1.5 million received in payments.

“Mobile is yet another channel we offer our customers,” Mr. Kanzleiter said. “We really want the customer and dealer to use their channel of choice.

“These days the customer does not want to wait,” he said. “We want to give that mobility in the palm of the hand and make dealers more flexible for the customer.”