People on the look out for a new car in China now have a new option, they can buy a new car from a vending machine, yes a vending machine, as easy as buying confectionary.

Tmall (an Ali Baba company) and Ford have opened a Super Test-Drive Centre in the Chinese city of Guangzhou where drivers can choose one of 100 Ford cars available to buy.

Customers simply sign up on the Tmall or Taobao mobile app and pick up the car from a vending machine which takes no more than 10 minutes. They can choose from Ford cars including its Explorer SUV, Mustang and Escort, and then get a three-day test drive before they decide whether to buy.

Gu Wanguo, general manager of vehicles at Tmall Auto, said the auto vending machine is an important step in Alibaba’s New Retail strategy. “By leveraging Alibaba’s data intelligence and technologies, the auto vending machine and super drive test services can enable auto brand owners and distributors better serve their customers.” Gu added.

“Consumers can use the internet to access more accurate, convenient services and get a deeper understanding into particular vehicles. In the meantime, we are opening our car vending machine’s infrastructure to the entire industry to leverage and enable their distributors, in hopes of helping upgrade the automotive sector as a whole.”

Sign up is done via mobile, and once they have chosen a vehicle, the buyer then takes a selfie to ensure they are the only person who can take the car from the machine, put down a deposit electronically and schedule a pick-up time, all from within the app. They then use that selfie to identify themselves and the car they have chosen is delivered to the ground floor of the car vending machine for their test drive to begin.

If they don’t like the car they initially chose they can try another, up to a limit of two. If they decide to make the purchase after the test drive, they can visit any of Ford’s 4S showrooms to pay the remaining balance after paying the deposit on Tmall.

Discounts and other incentives will also be provided to potential buyers based on consumer insights derived from user activity and history with the Alibaba group ecosystem.

The Tmall Super Test-Drive machine is a key step in the flourishing partnership between Alibaba and Ford which aims to redefine the automotive experience. It aims to integrate the best of the online and physical retail for Chinese consumers, perhaps theres a lesson there for failing high street retailers in Europe, to survive offline, you need to have an innovative and genuine omni-channel “experience led” strategy – evolve or become extinct.

Alibaba also plans to build similar auto vending machines in Beijing and Hangzhou, while continuing to explore further opportunities to collaborate with Ford in cloud computing, digital marketing, as well as in-car operating systems with AliOS, Alibaba’s IoT operating-system developer.

Here is a video of how it works

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