Amazon is in the midst of hiring people, including car salespeople, for online auto sales in Europe, according to Reuters, which cites a Saturday report from German auto trade weekly Automobilwoche. A request from Retail Dive to Amazon for confirmation or comment wasn’t immediately returned.
Christoph Moeller, a former auto industry specialist at global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, told Automobilwoche that he’s leading the effort to connect Amazon with European auto makers, according to the report.
The effort will be run out of Luxembourg and could field a pilot market in the U.K., the report also said.
While this move appears to solidify plans for Amazon to become a car dealership, Cooper Smith, research director at digital insights firm L2, notes that Amazon isn’t new to the auto business. Since last year, the e-commerce giant has been selling cars in Italy via Amazon.it and has allowed French consumers to make a down payment on auto purchases via Amazon.fr, Smith told Retail Dive. “In the US, Amazon lets shoppers do everything short of buying a car through its marketplace called Amazon Vehicles.”
The reason is obvious, really: “The regulation of auto sales can make shopping for cars an unpleasant and expensive experience,” Smith said. “Auto dealers are ripe for disruption … it’s why Tesla sells direct to consumers and why Amazon is entering the market as well.”
Zoriy Birenboym, CEO and founder of New York-based online car dealership eAutoLease.com, isn’t surprised, either, and said that Amazon’s penchant for leveraging data will serve it well, though he warned that selling cars is different than pretty much any other type of retail, much less e-commerce.
“Amazon has done a phenomenal job capitalizing on the opportunity throughout the e-commerce space and I can’t say I’m surprised that they’re now jumping into the U.K. automotive market,” Birenboym told Retail Dive. “They’ll likely start off collecting and analyzing data across the platform to see how buyers and sellers are responding, using that intel to increase profits and optimize the experience for customers. Although Amazon has seen great success entering new markets in the past, selling cars is a much bigger challenge than everyday household products, so it will be very interesting to watch this roll out.”