Will shoppers go to Walmart to buy a car?
From pairing books with coffee to pairing computers with smartphones, store-within-a-store concepts have proven successful in allowing retailers to get fans of complementary brands in the door and keep them looking around. But Walmart is expanding a store-within-a-store concept that meets a customer need not generally associated with a visit to a mass merchandiser — car buying.
Walmart is expanding a one-store pilot partnership with car buyer support service CarSaver to 250 locations, according to USA Today. The rollout will begin at stores in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana and Virginia. CarSaver offers in-store advice on the complicated task of leasing and financing a new or used automobile and puts customers into contact with the appropriate car dealers and insurance companies. The service will also be available on Walmart.com.
Having a service like CarSaver on-hand could theoretically bring customers considering car purchases into the store and increase dwell-time for those already there mulling the idea.
There is no news indicating Walmart is entertaining an eventual acquisition of CarSaver, though the extended partnership comes as the retailer continues to expand its offerings — mainly its digital ones — through acquisition. In the last year-and-a-half, the chain has acquired at least seven companies, including Millennial-targeted clothing brands like Bonobos, Modcloth and Moosejaw.
But unlike the ongoing digital acquisitions, the store-within-a-store aspect of the CarSaver deal allows the chain to leverage one of its most important assets — its physical footprint — over its main competitor, Amazon.com.
Amazon has made attempts to move into the automotive market. In 2016, it piloted a partnership with Hyundai to allow Prime members in select markets to test drive a 2017 Hyundai Elantra. Around that time the e-tailer also launched Amazon Vehicles, a site that lets customers research vehicles before buying.
Earlier this year there was speculation that Walmart intended to purchase health insurance giant Humana, a relationship that is still up in the air.
- Store within a store: Can Walmart change how you buy a car? – USA Today
- Is the Millennial car shopper Amazon’s next big audience? – RetailWire
- What would an acquisition of Humana mean for Walmart and its rivals? – RetailWire
- Walmart is focused on expanding is digital brand portfolio – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see CarSaver as enhancing or detracting from the Walmart brand? How likely is the service to meaningfully increase customer visits and dwell time for Walmart?