Mini Anywhere will be available, anywhere.
The Covid pandemic is easing here in the United States, but our working, living and buying habits will be changed forever. Mini wants to grab those newly-comfortable, tech-savvy buyers, 60% of which are either willing or very willing to purchase a vehicle online. The brand is starting a pilot program where they can purchase a Mini from start to finish on the web. If the test drive wasn't already dead, it will be soon.
Mini says it will offer customers a "fully-digital end-to-end shopping experience," covering all aspects from vehicle selection, trade-in, month payment calculations, all the way through financing, approval and signatures, in as little as 30 minutes. That seems like the best way to get your new Mini Cooper SE, which is one of our favorite, if short range, EVs.
"We wanted to come up with a simple, frictionless process for our dealers to facilitate a sale completely online because we know that is increasingly what consumers expect," said Patrick McKenna, Department Head of Marketing, Product and Strategy, Mini USA. "With Mini Anywhere we've built an e-commerce solution that offers customers the ability to buy a Mini online from anywhere in the country."
Mini commissioned a survey through Engine's Caravan that found that almost two-thirds of customers would go through the entire car-buying process online. It also showed that almost the same amount are more confident about making big purchases online than they were two years ago. A separate survey found that 74% of consumers planned to continue their current online shopping habits. Additionally, 42% said that pricing/finance ranked most important when deciding on a vehicle purchase.
The benefit for Mini is that the brand can reach more customers. With only 115 dealers in the US, many folks are out of range for the fun, front-driving go karts. Mini says buyers can go pickup their car when the process is done, or it will deliver the car to their door.
Mini looked for an off-the-shelf solution for this problem, but couldn't find anything. It decided to create its own platform for the service. Mini and Mini Financial Services teamed up with Otoz, a company that creates digital retail services for OEMs, dealerships and startups, to develop the new "end-to-end e-commerce experience."
"Mini Anywhere gives us the validation we need to sell cars online while also maintaining strong credit and access to the most attractive interest rates for our customers and prospects," said Stefan Christman, general manager, sales and marketing, Mini Financial Services.
The new system builds upon Mini's "Flipped Financing" feature, which makes sure that all approved credit applicants receive one fully transparent interest rate up-font and without any surprises. It also created a clear-cut process that eliminates the need for lengthy negotiations for both the customer and the dealer.
"What makes this work is that the dealers get super-interested customers actually looking to buy," Mini's head of communications told us. "Whenever there is a rollout like this, sometimes dealers love them, sometimes not, but this one came back with only positive feedback. When you're looking at the tech and what consumers are expecting, more are looking to do this."
The pilot program starts where most pilot programs do, in California. Mini says a further expanded rollout to dealers in other markets will continue in the next few months.