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Goodyear’s Online Sales Go National

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Goodyear’s Online Sales Go National

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s decision to sell tires online was “all about the consumer,” says Mike Dauberman, senior director of marketing and interactive, during a recent press conference at the company’s headquarters in Akron, Ohio.

Consumers have come to expect that they can buy tires online, and Goodyear is giving them what they want. “Convenience is key,” says Dauberman. “Not everyone is buying online, but the consumer base is growing.”

Following five years of research, the company began testing the program in 2012. It formally launched at its dealer meeting last January. The company now has 4,000 installers signed up to participate, which includes the company’s 600 company-owned locations. The program went national in September. “We didn’t just hit a big switch and turn it on,” says Dauberman. “We added markets over time. We made sure everything was working in those markets.”

There are still some areas in the U.S. where Goodyear needs to add installers. Dauberman says, “Our main motivation continues to be to find installers to fill those holes to make sure that we’re able to drive consumers to the stores in those locations, too.”

Currently, 83% of consumers research tires online prior to purchase, Dauberman reports. This is an increase from 55% in 2010 and 74% in 2012. People are looking for features and benefits and reviews.

The company also found that consumers don’t want to drive more than a few miles to get the tires installed. Goodyear’s website offers consumers a list of participating tire installers within their area, listed by proximity to the buyer. “Overall in most markets, especially the markets where Goodyear is strong, the consumers don’t have to drive very far, meaning more than a few miles, to be able to go to one of our authorized installers to have tires put on,” Dauberman notes.

“We call it a ‘convenient consumer,’” he says. “It’s important that dealers are participating in this program so these consumers don’t have to drive 20 miles, because convenience consumers don’t do that.”

From day one the company took into consideration the role its dealers would play in the interaction, says Dauberman. “We were very careful, and now we pride ourselves on how we engineered the solution with dealers in mind.”

Bill Friel, Goodyear’s general manager of consumer dealer retail, notes the program works like this:

  1. The consumer buys tires online via credit card and chooses an installer.
  2. That dealer’s warehouse/distributor sends the dealer the tires within 48 hours.
  3. The dealer installs the tires and submits a delivery receipt.
  4. Goodyear credits the dealer for the tires and provides a commission.

Dunlop and Kelly brand tires are offered if there is not a Goodyear tire that will fit the consumer’s vehicle. Thus far, there has not been a problem with the consumer choosing an improper tire.

The online sales program is based on the company’s national/government account platform, says Friel. “We didn’t have to reinvent anything. We had a platform that they were very familiar with.” He says the dealer gets his credit from Goodyear “in the form of a commission and an installation service credit.” He says there is no charge for being an installer and its dealers are satisfied with the program thus far.

Tires are priced the same across all U.S. markets, the company notes.

Goodyear research has found that 70% of consumers buying online are new customers for the tire installers, or customers the dealership hadn’t seen in a while. Some 55% purchased additional services and the average service bill totaled $290.

Dauberman says the company looks for online tire buying to continually grow, albeit at a slow rate. Online sales represented just 6% of the market in 2014, he says, up from 5.1% in 2013 and 4.4% in 2012.

“Yes, this is good for Goodyear,” says Dauberman. “But we also believe it’s very good for the dealers who are in our program because we’re helping them remain competitive.”   ■

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