On December 3, 2013, Mercedes-Benz commenced selling cars through the Internet for the first time via its dealership in Hamburg, Germany. The program allows customers to choose from over 70 pre-configured vehicles in a pilot test of direct online sales. The models cover the A-Class hatchback, CLA four-door coupe and CLS Shooting Brake wagon and will be offered in a package that includes lease, insurance and maintenance.
Andrea Finkbeiner-Mueller, head of dealer development and customer satisfaction for Mercedes, remarked that direct online sales is “a new field." Carmakers are increasingly trying to sell their vehicles directly online. Fellow German carmaker is also using the Web to sell the i3 electric car.
This also reflects the growing challenge posed by auto Web sites such as Mobile.de against traditional dealerships. Through online sales, Mercedes is attempting to entice customers who haven't bought a Mercedes before, according to Finkbeiner-Mueller.
While the prices of the cars bought online are roughly the same as those at German dealerships, online buyers get incentives like a visit to a motor-racing event or complementary rentals of roof racks for vacation trips. Dealers, however, will not be left out as they will still be involved in online transactions.
The Web service will also be supported by a salesman who can visit customers. Mercedes parent Daimler is planning to start a second pilot Web store in Warsaw, Poland in the first quarter of 2014.