Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. hopes it can sell more tires by offering consumers an easier way to buy them, in an effort that may challenge franchised auto dealers.
The company announced Monday that it's introducing a new sales platform called Roll by Goodyear, which will allow consumers to choose from a number of delivery methods after purchasing tires online.
That includes having a Goodyear technician install tires at the customer's home or business using specialized tire-installation vans or having Goodyear's new valet service pick up the car and bring it back with new slicks. Customers also can bring their cars to a Roll by Goodyear location to buy or have tires installed.
The moves could threaten the inroads that service departments of franchised auto dealers are making in the tire-replacement business. Their share has steadily climbed to 9 percent last year from 1 percent at the start of the century, according to Modern Tire Dealer.
Goodyear is the leading replacement brand, capturing 12 percent of the 208.3 million passenger-tire market in the U.S. last year, Modern Tire Dealer says.
Goodyear says its Roll by Goodyear stores will be located in lifestyle centers, with plenty of nearby things to do for customers waiting for an installation. Customers will get email or text notifications of when to pick up their vehicle.
"Guests can choose when, where and how to install their tires and they are in complete control of the process from start to finish,” said Fred Thomas, vice president and general manager of Goodyear Retail in a statement. “Goodyear is eliminating the waiting room and giving people time back in their day to do the things they really want to do."
The company said it has conducted extensive premarket testing on the concept, which it is now rolling out in Maryland, near Washington D.C. Its first Roll by Goodyear locations are in Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Germantown and Rockville.
While Goodyear has long been both a manufacturer and a retailer with its own company-branded and -owned stores, it has been looking for new ways to increase its market penetration.
In April, Goodyear and Bridgestone Americas announced they were combining their respective U.S. wholesale tire distribution assets into a 50/50 joint venture called TireHub LLC that will operate through 80-plus distribution centers nationwide.
Last month, Goodyear CEO Richard Kramer seemed to telegraph new announcements like Roll by Goodyear while addressing the 2018 International Tire Exhibition and Conference in Akron.
"Remember product is just the point of entry into any industry. We're really in a battle for consumers. And the companies that make the buying process as easy as possible are the ones that are going to win over the long term," he said at the conference.
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