As president of e-GM, Mark Hogan directs a variety of General Motors' e-commerce initiatives, including an Internet pilot in Minneapolis. The pilot tests several sales strategies, including building Oldsmobile Aleros to order and getting them to customers within 20 days, basing upfront e-prices on local transactions and pooling dealer inventories on a market level. At January's Detroit auto show, Hogan spoke with Staff Reporter Ralph Kisiel.
How is the Minneapolis pilot proceeding?
The pilot's still running. It's been our first foray of working with our dealers on an online partnership where we have virtual inventory with an e-price. I think the most important aspect of the pilot has been the learning, in terms of how to work together with our dealer body. So we concluded that we will finish up this pilot in a couple months and then take the pilot to several other cities with other brands and other products.
Is the next step to try it with more than one model?
Yes. We've got to stress test it, meaning we've got to get more models, more volume and more brands in.
How fast have you delivered Aleros in the Minneapolis pilot?
We got them to our customers in less than 10 days from order out of the Lansing (Mich.) plant. The challenge is going to be can you do it for 5 million vehicles? The reliability of us hitting the delivery date is the biggest deal with the customer. If they order a vehicle and we say it's going to be there in 30 days, our research tells us that will be satisfactory. We certainly want to take that down as much as we can because that's where there's a lot of hidden costs, or excess costs in the system.
What about the national all-makes, all-models site?
We continue to have our internal discussions with the dealers. We think the notion of an all-makes, all-models portal in conjunction with our dealers makes sense.
Can you start it this year?
I'm sure hopeful.
Are you still thinking of using a third-party site, such as an Autobytel.com?
We think that there are third-party sites out there that are worthy of consideration. If we can do something with a known brand that seems to make some sense, it will allow us to go fast.
Any changes coming up for GMBuy Power.com?
We're going to have another refresh coming up here in March, and I think a bigger change toward the middle of the year. We're constantly updating it. We've made it truly a global platform now. We've launched it in 10 countries.
Japan will be up and running within several months. We're pretty much in Western Europe.
By the end of next year we'll have it deployed in 40 markets that will cover 95 percent of all our global sales. GMBuyPower, by the way, is a locate-to-order model, which we view as the bridge between today and build to order. You configure a vehicle on BuyPower; we can find that vehicle in dealer inventory, which is unique.