AKRON (Jan. 9, 2016) — With multiple tire manufacturers jumping on the e-commerce platform to sell tires directly to consumers, online tire sales have made their mark in the industry.
While some tire dealers met the new programs with hesitation, many have now found their footing as others struggle to compete.
Though online tire sales are not expected to be the norm in the near future, both tire makers and dealers alike contacted by Tire Business said they believe the practice will continue to grow.
Tire makers move online
Entering 2017, Bridgestone Americas, Goodyear and Michelin North America have taken the lead in online tire sales initiatives.
Goodyear was the first tire company to embark on consumer online tire sales, announcing its initiative in early 2015. The Akron-based firm is pleased with its results, both from end consumers and dealers as it heads into 2017, according to Mike Dauberman, Goodyear senior director marketing and interactive.
“We are pleased with the performance of our e-commerce program,” Mr. Dauberman told Tire Business.
“We receive great feedback from consumers and participating dealers, who have found value in the additional sales opportunities that come from serving online shoppers.”
Bridgestone Americas' also saw the need for online purchasing when it acquired Canadian software developer TireConnect Systems.
“The emergence of digital has certainly changed the path to purchase for tires, and we believe it will continue to influence the tire buying process in 2017 and beyond,” said Erik Seidel, vice president of sales, U.S. and Canada, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations.
“While less than 10 percent of tire buyers today report buying their tires online, more than 80 percent of consumers search for tires online before they make a purchase.”
Due to this online research trend, the company focuses on developing tools and programs to help both consumers and dealers, he said.
Bridgestone took its time rolling out its TireConnect program and found success. In just a few months, TireConnect generated more than 1 million tire searches that resulted in more than 40,000 quotes.
The Nashville-based tire maker is pleased with those numbers and expects TireConnect to grow steadily in 2017, Mr. Seidel added.
Michelin North America Inc. threw its hat in the ring partway through 2016.
“We continue to believe that providing our consumers with the opportunity to purchase tires online is the right strategy,” said Brian Adams, Michelin e-commerce project manager.
Consumers expect to be able to buy products anywhere, at any time, and on any device, he added.
“Our brand does not own any retail stores, so our close relationships with our dealer network is critical for success,” said Mr. Adams.