by Greg Campbell | November 13, 2015 5:22 pm
After college, I spent some time selling cars. It’s a tough gig that requires a tremendous amount of work and initiative and the cost of employing car salesmen is an overhead cost built into the cost of the car. Eliminating the need for a team of salesmen, however, is likely able to reduce the costs of the cars and one amazing invention may lead the way into the future of car-buying: the car vending machine in Nashville, Tennessee.
There are all kinds of strange vending machines in the world, from ones that dispense iPads to others that dole out live crabs. Now there’s one in Nashville, Tennessee that dispenses cars.
That’s right; online used car retailer Carvana has officially unveiled its first vending machine completely stocked with cars. Standing at five stories tall, the coin-operated (yes, really) glass tower vending machine can house as many as 20 used cars at a time. The facility also includes a welcome center and three customer delivery bays to which the cars are dispensed.
After purchasing the car online, car buyers go to the Carvana vending machine. There, they find their name at a kiosk inside the vending machine and insert “a Carvana-branded coin into the custom coin slot, which initiates the vending process,” states a company press release. How the customer gets the special Carvana coin is unclear.
Carvana records digital video of the dispensing process that it provides to the customer, so that they might share the experience on social media.
After the car is dispensed, the buyer has a seven-day “test drive” period during which they can assess if they want to keep the car or not. Remember, until the car is dispensed, they’ve not yet even laid hands on the vehicle — even though they’ve already purchased it.
Keen to buy a car from a vending machine but don’t live in Nashville? No worries: Carvana will subsidize $200 in airfare and arrange “white glove transportation” from the Nashville airport to the vending machine.
At first, this seemed like a silly idea. The more I’ve meditated on it, though, it actually seems smart. People often complain the worst part of the car-buying process is dealing with salesmen. Cutting them out of the process and routing buyers to a website and then a robotic vending machine might well be the most customer-friendly way to sell used cars.
I don’t know if the world is ready for this just yet. I still have a hard time picking-up a rental car with minimal human interaction; I’m not sure I’m ready to buy a car the same way I buy a soda.
However, progress often feels uncomfortable at first.
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