Amazon could be set to pilot online car sales in the UK after its UK sector boss admitted car sales executives were already being recruited in preparation for the scheme.
E-commerce delivery expert ParcelHero issued a warning to UK car retailers after producing a report into the strategy of the burgeoning online retailer which highlighted its future role in the business of selling cars.
ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, said: “From books to consumer electronics, Amazon has completely transformed the market wherever and whatever it has launched.
“Now the likes of Evans Halshaw and Bristol Street Motors will be taking a deep breath as it accelerates into the world of car sales.”
German trade magazine Automobilwoche this month revealed that Amazon is planning to move into the European car trade – starting in the UK.
Automobilwoche revealed that industry specialist Christoph Moeller had been put in charge of Amazon's European business with car makers.
Moeller told the publication that the company is already recruiting car sales executives.
He said that Amazon plans to run the business out of Luxembourg and is looking at Britain as its probable pilot market.
Jinks said: “Amazon is looking at every branch of retail. There is small wonder that it is now looking at car sales.
“Amazon is already actively making loans to its marketplace traders: it may be able to offer attractive loans on new cars in the future to its Prime Members, for example. Amazon is also likely to offer long-term lease cars.”
Jinks added: “Mr Moeller’s claim that the UK will be its pilot market makes perfect sense. Amazon launches many of its ideas in the UK before the US and internationally.
“For example, Amazon trialled its own delivery arm, Amazon Logistics, in the UK before it launched it elsewhere, in order to perfect its one hour Prime Now service before commencing its own deliveries in America.
“Amazon trialled selling small Fiats in Italy last year, with some success; but even the dinky Fiat 500 can’t be left under your doormat or in your porch.
“Amazon will likely have to work with an established car distributor to deliver your new car; introducing an entirely new supply chain.”
Lisa Bedwell, senior research director at Future Thinking, said: “Amazon’s ambitious move to take on the automotive market and sell vehicles directly in the UK is an exciting game changer which will be making established automotive traders nervous.
“While key existing players such as AutoTrader are likely to take steps to offer a more tailored, specialised service to differentiate from Amazon, for automotive brands there is an opportunity to push for these platforms to offer more space where they can build a closer relationship with customers.”
Bedwell added: “Trust is now at a premium in the automotive industry, particularly in the wake of the recent Volkswagen’s emissions scandal, with the brand-customer relationship more important than ever for the sector.
"Brands may benefit from Amazon’s positive reputation, but should also be seeking to create more opportunities to communicate and engage with customers directly through these platforms.”