One of the many services that has made Costco famous is its car buying program.
The program has its supporters and detractors, but overall the company sees its partnership with dealerships as a value-added service for club members.
Walmart wants in, too.
The nation’s largest retailer has announced a partnership with dealers, a financial institution, and an online car retail platform to launch an in-store car buying program. Before you laugh at the idea of buying a car at Walmart, here’s why it could actually work.
It does come with a warning, though.
Walmart has teamed up with AutoNation, Ally Financial, and CarSaver to offer a kiosk-based system that allows shoppers to choose a car, arrange financing, and get insurance through the touch of a few buttons. Of course, the system asks the shopper to schedule a time to visit a nearby dealer to finish the transaction.
The success rate in early tests is astonishing. AutoNews says,
CarSaver, Wal-Mart, auto lenders and 20 participating dealerships conducted a pilot version of the program in Stuart, Fla., in April 2016. Nearly 80 percent of the appointments scheduled through the program led to a sale, and on average, customers saved more than $3,000 off the sticker price.
Show me a dealership anywhere in the country that wouldn’t be thrilled with closing the sale on 80 percent of leads or a customer who wouldn’t be happy after saving $3K on a new or certified pre-owned car.
The program will debut in April in 25 Walmart Supercenters in four markets: Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City. Touchscreen kiosks will be setup inside the stores along with a staff of advisors to help answer any questions.
While this program is likely to generate car sales, potential buyers need to remain wary of making an impulse buy. It’s easy to be lured by a monthly payment that may be smaller than expected, but be diligent about doing your online research first to make sure you’re getting exactly the car you want.
Also make sure to shop around at dealers outside of Walmart’s network and take test drives. While the Walmart kiosk may be a convenient new way to buy a car, doing your own shopping and negotiating may still be the smartest.
Would you buy a car from a Walmart kiosk?