TECHNOLOGY

Three reasons tires are an ideal omnichannel product

BY Dan Berthiaume

An increasing number of retailers are offering omnichannel tire sales, and with good reason.

Tires are not the most groundbreaking product. Only serious automotive enthusiasts tend to give them much thought. Yet tires lend themselves to leading-edge omnichannel commerce, as evidenced by several recently launched programs for seamlessly promoting and selling tires.

Here are three reasons why boring old tires are generating omnichannel excitement for retailers and customers.

Wide range of product specs

All tires are not created equal. There is a huge variety in tire brand, price point, and product attributes (such as all-season vs. high-performance tires). There is no realistic way one physical store could have all these SKU variants in stock. In addition, differences in tire models may not be readily apparent by physical inspection, lessening the need to see the product before purchase.

This confluence of factors creates a situation ideal for buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) retailing. Canadian tire retailer Kal Tire, Advance Auto Parts’ TechNet partnership network, and eBay Motors (in partnership with multiple national tire chains) all offer some type of BOPIS option for purchasing tires.

Professional advice – at scale

While there is a dizzyingly broad SKU assortment of tires, the average driver probably has little knowledge of exactly what tire features best suit their needs. The make and model of a customer’s car, frequency and speed of their driving, weather and road conditions of their driving environment, and numerous other factors all play a role in determining which exact set of tires will work best.

Not many store associates, even certified tire experts, will readily have all that information committed to memory. Fortunately, interactive solutions based on algorithms and artificial intelligence can efficiently evaluate a customer’s individual tire needs and make one-to-one personalized recommendations, at mass scale.

For example, Sam’s Club is piloting an employee app called “Sam’s Garage” that enables associates to quickly pull up a member’s vehicle information, select specific tire needs, such as responsiveness and winter traction, from a menu after a conversation. Based on this input, the app generates a list of tires for the associate to recommend, including special promotional offers. The app can also perform a comparative analysis of selected tires, comparing and contrasting their availability, savings, and how well they meet the customer’s selected tire needs.

Professional services – on demand

Some drivers install their own tires. However, most customers opt to have their tires professionally mounted. Fortunately, tire retailers can also leverage omnichannel technology to efficiently provide customers with a convenient installation experience.

Following payment, eBay Motors tire customers select a preferred date and time for their installation appointment and can add additional services like a wheel alignment or oil change via the CarAdvise platform. The feature ships purchased tires directly to a nearby automotive repair shop for installation at no additional cost.

Working with OSF Commerce, Kal Tire developed a customized online store locator that is integrated into the BOPIS checkout flow. Customers choose the store for their tire fitting using geolocation, or by entering their address in the store finder. The solution automatically schedules appointments based on in-stock availability of products, or how long it will take to ship them from a nearby store. Customers are provided with the earliest possible time for their appointment.

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