"It was very important for the dealer body that we, the dealers, are still in control of final pricing to the customer," said Jason Willis, chairman of the Mini National Dealer Council, which gave input on the tool. "We still control the trade-in value. We still control the finance department. All the same things that we control at the dealer level are still available to us by going through this source."
The first iteration of Mini Anywhere allows customers to personalize a payment plan, get trade-in offers, go through a credit approval process and digitally sign a contract in one sitting.
Officials at BMW's small-car brand made efficiency a priority: The goal is to get customers through the portal in as little as 30 minutes.
But credit approval, double-checking a vehicle's availability and driver's license verification could all tack on time.
Mini isn't requiring dealerships to use the platform, which will be part of a pool of retail tools from which they can choose.
The platform in its trial phase offers only Mini Financial Services' leasing and financing options, according to Stefan Christman, general manager of sales and marketing at the lender. That's similar to Toyota's SmartPath platform, which offered solely Toyota Financial Services products during its pilot and now allows more flexibility.
Mini said its platform may evolve to allow a dealership to showcase all of its own lenders and finance and insurance products.
"The final goal is to have Mini Financial be the primary lender available, but the dealer will also be able to get involved and present other lenders that are good in their local area or good options for the guests based on the guests' specific needs," Willis said.
At the moment, the platform offers only new vehicles — something else Mini said could change.
"Right now we're new-car-only, but our goal is to add used cars," possibly in August, said Patrick McKenna, head of marketing, product and strategy at Mini USA.
Similarly, Mini Anywhere doesn't support cash sales, either. Adding that option is on the automaker's to-do list.
The platform will next launch in Florida and Texas. Mini is aiming for it to be rolled out to all 115 of its U.S. dealerships by mid-December.