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News of  May 09, 2000


BMW Group With International E-Commerce
Starting on 1 July 2000, the BMW Group is introducing a uniform, worldwide e-commerce solution for all processes and procedures leading up to the closure of a car purchase contract. The BMW E-commerce solution is a system of modules facilitating the prospect's purchasing decision in choosing a new vehicle in the Internet. BMW's system covers both BMW cars and motorcycles as well as the MINI brand. With implementation starting in summer, the French market has been chosen as the pilot market for Europe and the South African market as the pilot market for overseas. The objective of this pilot phase is to compile experience for implementing the project in other countries. The other participating markets - Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA - are to be completely integrated in the system by mid-2001 at the latest. An essential aspect of this international approach is the high degree of standardization to be achieved in the business processes, as well as the technologies and systems used.

The system gives the customer the opportunity to carefully prepare his vehicle exactly in line with his personal wishes and preferences. In the process he benefits from integrated, carefully coordinated and harmonized core offers. So where previously the customer had to make a number of troublesome phone calls and discuss many details in advance, he is now able to surf the virtual BMW world conveniently from his home, seeing everything he wishes to see on the screen. And by clicking his mouse he is able to retrieve everything of interest in the context of a possible purchasing decision.

It nevertheless goes without saying that even this kind of sophisticated and convenient system cannot replace the expert advice provided by a qualified dealer. It is therefore intended primarily for prospects wishing to obtain information at all times of the day or night, using the convenience of online access directly from their terminal. Six online processes form the core elements of this international concept, preparing the customer for the actual purchase:

A very helpful tool in specifying the exact details of the car the customer is looking for is the Car Configurator. Using this tool, the customer can individually "put together" his new car the way he wants to have it: The body, engine, color, interior features, extras, and so on and so forth - quite simply everything which turns a "regular" car into the customer's very own personal model. And in the process the customer is constantly updated on the current price of his car.

In future the Car Configurator will have another very special ability, being able to automatically check the customer's individual wishes and preferences for compatibility. In other words, if there are any features which cannot go together in one car, such as a trailer hook and Park Distance Control, the system will inform the customer immediately. After the process of configuration, the customer can save the car configured and print it out as desired, or, if he prefers, modify the configuration at a later point in time.

The second module, the Dealer Search Machine, helps the Internet customer find the authorized BMW dealer he prefers for establishing his initial contact, taking the car for a test drive and finally signing the contract. The customer can define "his" dealer, for example by choosing a dealer near to his home or office.

Issuing an Online Test Drive Inquiry the prospect will then establish his first contact, choosing the specific dealer he prefers. This dealer will then be requested to contact the potential purchaser for a test drive with the car the purchaser is looking for.

Generally it is at this time that the customer will start taking a very specific look at the product he plans to buy. And it is also at this point that he faces the next question: what about my used car? This is where the next online module comes into place, the Pre-Owned Car Assessment. Via a link to partners providing a neutral, non-partisan assessment of used car prices, the customer will receive an initial estimate of the value of his pre-owned car.

The Online Offer Inquiry requests the dealer - again by Internet - to compile an offer covering all features and aspects of the car the customer wishes to buy. The data of the car specified in this way are sent to the dealer together with a financing proposal (if required), the dealer then contacting the customer within 24 hours.

The entire range of print information is then provided by an Online Information Inquiry giving the customer all the sales literature he requires to prepare a car sale – for example a range of selected sales brochures with colour and upholstery cards, information on delivery periods, leasing and financing offers.

The objective of the entire system is to facilitate the purchasing process for the BMW customer, giving him all the information he needs for the final talk with his dealer. The BMW dealer, in turn, participating in this process, receives a dealer portal in order to offer the customer an online supply of information: The dealer is able to check out all online customer inquiries at a glance, thus quickly processing customer requests and inquiries with maximum efficiency.

This solution has been implemented in cooperation with Softlab, one of BMW's subsidiaries, acting as the general contactor, as well as other partners such as Kabel New Media. To ensure rapid and comprehensive introduction of the new concept both in the car and motorcycle business, the objective from the outset was to achieve a high degree of standardisation. Local modifications are primarily made on the user surface, while underlying business processes, the technologies used and the system itself are largely standardised in order to facilitate future expansions and add-on features.

(May 8, 2000)


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