Successful trials in 2001-02 with e-commerce in Chicago and Atlanta have led Goodyear to offer that feature permanently on the Web sites of two of its subsidiaries-Just Tires and Dunlop Tire.
On those units' Web sites-www.justtires.com and www.dunloptire.com-tire buyers can shop among local retailers to get the best deal possible on Goodyear and Dunlop tires, according to Janice Consolacion, Dunlop manager of marketing research and advertising research.
The Dunlop program is voluntary among Dunlop dealers nationwide, with more than 800 locations signed up to date, Ms. Consolacion said. ``All they need to do is add their pricing information into the system,'' she said. ``We originally offered this to a test group, but it's been open to all Dunlop dealers the last couple of months.''
The Just Tires program, meanwhile, is available in all areas that have Just Tires dealerships. Besides Chicago, there are Just Tires outlets in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Jose and Sacramento, Calif., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Baltimore-Washington, D.C.
Goodyear placed the e-commerce option on the Dunlop Web site, rather than the Goodyear site, because Dunlop customers tend to be more savvy about the Web than the usual run of tire buyers, Ms. Consolacion said.
``Dunlop's biggest market segments are performance and SUV tires,'' she said. ``Consumers who want these tires are more likely than other customers to search the Internet for information, so we are targeting those people who actually are looking at the Net in the first place.''
Consumers can reserve a convenient time to pick up their tires, and thus be assured they'll be in stock when they come in, she said. Dealers can plan their service schedules accordingly and can still serve e-commerce customers in an advisory role, just as they can with in-store customers, she added.
``A dealer still has the opportunity to discuss the fitment with the customer, so he can make sure this is the tire the customer really needs,'' Ms. Consolacion said.