MONTREAL—A Montreal tire distributor has begun offering Continental- and General-brand tires directly to consumers via the Internet.
Inter-Quebec Tires Inc.'s Web site, www.AmericaTire.com, now lists various passenger, light truck and heavy truck tire lines made by Continental General Tire Inc. (CGT) for sale to consumers—the only Canadian distributor authorized by CGT to do so.
Much like Tire Rack in the U.S., Inter-Quebec takes consumer orders online then ships tires either directly to a consumer's door or to a dealership designated by that customer, said Patrick Tremblay, Inter-Quebec vice president.
However, he pointed out that, unlike Tire Rack, AmericaTire.com sells no wheels or other aftermarket products and that its tire offerings are limited to Continental, General and Vredestein brands. Inter-Quebec plans to keep the site that way so it can focus on building inventory and servicing its online customers well, he said.
"Our specialty has always been tires, and that's going to be the core of the business," he said.
Inter-Quebec, also known as Pneus-Inter Quebec in French, still is a conventional wholesale distributor to Canadian tire dealers, a business that brings in annual sales of $10 million (Canadian), Mr. Tremblay said. The company decided to use the Internet to sell tires directly to consumers due to minimum purchasing requirements imposed on dealers by the tire makers.
"We were losing market share that way," Mr. Tremblay said.
He admitted that his company has seen some "animosity" from dealers who view AmericaTire.com as competition. But he thinks most people still are reluctant to embrace e-commerce and that only 5 percent of all product purchases will be made on the Internet.
"Since we're a small company, 5 percent, if we have good market share, presents a lot of opportunity," he said.
AmericaTire.com has been selling Vredestein passenger, light truck and specialty tires since its launch in May and added Continental truck tires and General passenger and light truck lines Oct. 18. By spring, Inter-Quebec expects to have Continental high-performance tires available on the site.
The firm estimates it will gain an additional $2 million (Canadian) next year from its e-commerce venture.
"We intend to be profitable on the Web by next spring," Mr. Tremblay said.