MSN Carpoint Makes Online Car Buying Easy for Consumers, Profitable for Dealers

This article is the second in a series of stories about how Microsoft is bringing consumers and partners together through the power of the Internet.

REDMOND, Wash., December 21, 1998 — Like many consumers seeking alternatives to the age-old process of haggling at an automobile dealership, Kimberly Ryan recently turned to the Internet for the first time to shop for and buy a car. After surfing on several Web-based car-buying services, Ryan decided to use Microsoft’s MSN CarPoint. The experience was so fast and seamless that Ryan says she plans to use MSN CarPoint to buy her next car.

“Within 45 minutes of submitting my purchase request, I had an answer to my question: How much would they sell the car for? There was no arguing, no harassment, none of the typical lines, such as ‘What are the other prices you are getting?’ or ‘What price would you like to pay?'” Ryan said.

Business unit manager Lindsey Sparks said online car-buying services such as MSN CarPoint are designed to make the process fast, convenient, hassle-free, and best of all, haggle-free.

“Consumers are telling us that they find the car-buying process to be a very intimidating one, so MSN CarPoint is employing technology and forging relationships to ease that process,” Sparks said.

MSN CarPoint has accomplished this by developing a network of more than 2,000 dealers nationwide and through its relationship with Reynolds and Reynolds, a company that works with Microsoft to train car dealers to work successfully with Internet customers. To participate in the MSN CarPoint network, dealers must attend a two-day training session and commit to abiding by MSN CarPoint’s seven participation requirements, which include responding to customer requests within 48 hours and offering a no-haggle deal by stating their best price up front.

Reynolds and Reynolds spokesperson Stephanie Takai said the relationship between Reynolds and Reynolds, MSN CarPoint and individual automobile dealers is successful for everyone concerned, especially consumers.

“Microsoft is the leader in understanding how consumers interact with technology, and Reynolds and Reynolds understands car dealers very well. The relationships, thus, are very balanced, so everyone wins,” Takai said.

Paul Levine of Brandon Ford in Tampa, Fla., said he couldn’t agree more. Levine’s dealership has been a member of the MSN CarPoint network of dealers since 1997. He says MSN CarPoint has had a huge effect on his business, accounting for 10 percent of the dealership’s new car business and 20 percent of its overall business. Like Reynolds and Reynolds, Levine attributes his dealership’s success with Internet customers to MSN CarPoint’s technological expertise.

“We’ve partnered with MSN CarPoint because we believe in Microsoft, and they’re dedicated to the business,” Levine said.

According to JD Powers’ 1997 Online Auto Buying Guide, 6 percent of new car buyers will purchase their cars through an online auto buying service this year. That number is expected to increase to 14 percent by the year 2000, according to the same report. With such a huge business opportunity at stake, dealers like Levine are eager to work with MSN CarPoint to keep customer satisfaction high.

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