AKRONGoodyear's online tire-buying program, which the tire maker announced at its annual dealer conference earlier this year, has now been rolled out to all U.S. markets.
According to Mike Dauberman, Goodyear's senior director of marketing and interactive, more than 4,000 outletsincluding Goodyear's 600 company-owned tire and automotive service centershave signed on as tire installers under the e-commerce program. The enrollment, which Goodyear said represents about 50 percent of its tire volume sold through independent dealers, is about double the firm's initial expectations for the program's inaugural year.
As of late September, consumers across the country have been able to purchase tires through Goodyear.com from any computer or mobile device, the Akron-based tire maker said. After identifying their vehicle or tire size, consumers are shown available tire options along with information to help them make the right selection.
After choosing their tires, consumers can then schedule an appointment for installation at an authorized installer of their choice. The entire purchase is completed online and upfront, Goodyear said, allowing customers to simply show up for the appointment at the scheduled installation time
Dealers who participate in the program receive payment for tires in the form of a commission and installation service credit, similar to the company's national account and government sales program, said Bill Friel, general manager, Goodyear consumer dealer retail. He added there are several tiers of credit amounts, based on the tire model, size, type of vehicle and other factors.
Tires sold through the site are offered at the same price across all U.S. markets.
So far the program, which is mostly automated, has been working as intended, Mr. Dauberman said. The program, he noted, was designed to provide a simple online shopping experience for those consumers who prefer the control and convenience of buying tires online while allowing dealers the opportunity to generate customers that may not otherwise have seen.
We pride ourselves for how we engineered the solution with dealers in mind, Mr. Dauberman said. From day one, when we announced the program, we announced it with the dealers' role. We made sure that the dealers had a role, we made sure they were highly compensated in the practice.
We were very diligent and careful in that way, and we feel like we're a leader in the space and that our solutions are catering to the dealers that sell our products.
Messrs. Dauberman and Friel emphasized that the consumer who purchases tires through Goodyear.com is typically not a consumer dealers were selling.
According to Mr. Friel, in the company's initial pilot program in 2012, 60 percent of consumers who purchased tires through Goodyear.com were new visitors to the dealership they selected for installation. About 45 percent purchased additional services, the average bill for which was $280.
To date, the local market roll-out has exceeded expectations set by that program, Mr. Freil said.
Seventy percent of the consumers coming to the dealers are brand new customers either they haven't seen before or haven't seen in a while, and 55 percent are buying additional services, he said. Those additional services average about $290 per customer.
Mr. Dauberman declined to release projections for sales through the website or discuss the number of transactions at this time. Despite being available nationally, there is still plenty of room for the program to grow, he added.
Convenience is king for what these consumers are looking for, he said. Part of convenience is distance.
According to the tire maker, consumers throughout the Mideast and Midwest U.S. have been searching for tires on Goodyear's website, but many of those potential buyers don't have installers located within a short driving distance.
At 4,000 installers, you're seeing that there are still some areas where we're probably not going to sell a lot of tires because there's no convenience there, he said. The installer program remains free for dealers to sign up.