MIAMI — Mike Welch, founder of the Blackcircles.com online tire-buying service acquired by Group Michelin in 2015, is bringing his "click and fit" style of online tire sourcing to the U.S. with the establishment of Tirescanner.com.
Mr. Welch, who was a strategic adviser to online tire retailer SimpleTire L.L.C. during the second half of 2017, claims Tirescanner.com will be North America's first "online portal for brick-and-mortar tire retailers."
"Tirescanner is a platform that celebrates and showcases the very best of the bricks-and-mortar retail stores the United States has to offer," Mr. Welch said, calling his new platform a "real strength-in-numbers opportunity for the traditional retailers."
Mr. Welch, who sold Blackcircles.com to Michelin for $75.5 million, plans to launch Tirescanner.com on Christmas Day and is inviting U.S. retailers to sign up before then to be part of the launch.
Tirescanner.com likely will launch with over 60,000 tire sizes, 3 million prices, 60 retailers and a handful of key manufacturer partners, Mr. Welch said.
"Our goal is to deliver an easy-to-use whole-of-market platform for customers and a low-cost high-performance solution for retailers to ensure they protect and grow their share of the market in the face of growing online competition," Mr. Welch said.
Retailers who use the platform will be charged a few dollars per transaction, Mr. Welch said, noting that dealers pay only for qualified leads.
Noting that tire makers and large wholesalers alike are becoming more active in the online sales sector, Mr. Welch said, "It is important that the brick-and-mortar retailers are able to keep hold of the tire margin as well as the installation fee, …
"The 'pure play' operators are farming out the tire installation to the brick-and-mortar guys and keeping control of the tire buying," he said. "That means they can control sell-out prices, which ultimately results in prices going down."