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ARMONK, N.Y. - 24 Sep 2010: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is helping Mazda North America Operations transform the way customers buy accessories and service for their automobiles through a dynamic Web presence able to respond to market shifts within 15 minutes. As a result, Mazda is reducing costs, saving time for customers and helping to drive new revenue for itself and its dealerships.
Because the purchase of big-ticket items such as automobiles has traditionally been done in person to let consumers test the performance, comfort and style of a vehicle before buying, the automobile industry has been slower to embrace the Web for transaction-based activities. But that is changing as more dealers realize the potential to deliver detailed information about vehicles and accessories, including photos, ratings and reviews, and close sales over the Internet. The goal is to merge the experience at the dealer location with what can be delivered more conveniently and efficiently online.
To help its more than 600 U.S. dealers embrace the Internet, Mazda North American Operations is working with IBM to make available an easy-to-use template that helps dealers develop a branded and customized Website in as little as 15 minutes. Dealers can then add content and sales incentives, including product descriptions, coupons, promotions and links to social networking sites, over time. The result is an increase in both sales as well as customer traffic in dealer showrooms.
The template and content management is delivered as part of IBM WebSphere Commerce, which also manages customer requests and scheduling for car repair and servicing over the Web. When customers do make it to a Mazda dealer location, they also find an Internet friendly environment. The company's "Retail Revolution" showrooms, for example, treat customers to an upscale lounge with comfortable seating, refreshments and the ability to browse the Web from PCs stationed at several kiosks.
"Besides driving new sales and giving customers greater convenience in buying accessories and scheduling service, the strong online presence provides a solid link to Mazda's corporate branding while advancing the dealership's own identity at the regional and community levels," said James DiMarzio, CIO of Mazda North American Operations.
To fully automate the entire online sales cycle, the IBM software connects to legacy systems for order creation and fulfillment in real-time through Mazda's distribution center, automating what previously had to be done manually, reducing errors and ensuring timely delivery of custom parts and accessories. By linking to Mazda's parts distribution centers, dealers can access an online catalog of more than 8,000 individual products that is continually updated by Mazda North America. The system is designed as a "just in time" inventory model that lets dealers reduce the number of items they need to keep in stock.
Another convenience to both dealers and customers is the use of PayPal for payment processing and UPS for order fulfillment. Links to these services on the dealer Websites give customers a simple and familiar way to complete transactions. Because it is all automated, dealers enjoy the "hands off" benefit of not having to process credit cards and simplified merchandise pick-ups by carriers.
Today's leading organizations place a high value on a superior and consistent customer experience. They continuously focus on enhancing the customer brand experience by responding quickly to marketplace changes to differentiate themselves through more targeted, dynamic marketing. In order to achieve this, these leaders are increasingly investing in technology to automate and manage all facets of marketing. As such, they are reducing costs and time to market as well, giving them the edge in a fast-paced, competitive market.
To meet the growing demand of marketers to connect with their customers, IBM is assembling an a range of capabilities in business analytics, customer interactions, and marketing automation that will help companies accelerate activities across dynamic business networks of prospects, customers, partners, suppliers, agencies and manufacturers, which will ultimately enable businesses to respond to market shifts.
About Mazda North American Operations
Celebrating its 40th Anniversary in the United States in 2010, Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
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