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BMW Tapping D2C as Auto Companies Turn to Omnichannel

BMW Mini building

BMW Group is dipping its toe in the water with direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales, beginning with its Mini brand, as the auto industry increasingly integrates eCommerce.

The luxury vehicle company announced Wednesday (Oct. 18) that, starting Jan. 1, it will sell the brand’s automobiles in Italy, Poland and Sweden, with more countries to follow, and that it intends to introduce D2C purchasing for BMW-brand products in 2026. As part of this process, the company will offer both eCommerce and in-person buying options.

“The new sales model will enable us to communicate directly with our customers and give the BMW Group a direct customer interface,” Pieter Nota, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Customer, Brand, Sales, said in a statement. “The aim of our new sales model is very clearly to increase customer satisfaction and offer the best premium customer experience in the industry.”

The company’s D2C intentions have been developing for some time now. Indeed, nearly a year ago, BMW’s then-CFO Nicolas Peter was telling German newspaper Münchner Merkur of this intention to integrate D2C sales, noting that the company was in the process of “constructive talks” with the dealers that typically sell its vehicles, according to Reuters.

Indeed, there are other car brands selling D2C already, with Tesla, for instance, having done so since its inception.

With this model threatening car dealers’ role in the purchasing process, dealers are going digital to keep up, as Seez CEO and Co-founder Tarek Kabrit told PYMNTS Karen Webster in an interview earlier this year. The company aims to enable dealers to serve as an online marketplace matchmaker between sellers and buyers.

“We felt there was a big opportunity from a SaaS perspective to become a Shopify for car dealers to help them move into the digital age. We’ve shifted our focus to those two products,” Kabrit said.

That said, online car sales are on the decline, at least for the time being. For instance, eCommerce car-buying platform Vroom noted in its most recent earnings report that unit sales were down as much as 55% year over year.

According to findings cited “The Key To Satisfied Car Buyers Is Digital Disbursements,” a PYMNTS and Onbe collaboration, part of the Expanding Payments Choice Playbook Series, 72% of automotive customer interactions are already digital. Plus, additional research highlighted in the report reveals that 78% of online car buyers were highly satisfied with the experience, and only 3% would not purchase a car online again.

Overall, cars are not the craziest (in terms of cost) purchase that consumers can make via D2C channels. In an interview with PYMNTS at the start of this year, Alec Hartman, co-founder and CEO of D2C homebuilding startup Welcome Homes, spoke to the niche demand for purchasing houses directly from the brand via eCommerce channels.

“There’s obviously drastic considerations for different segments of the market. But we’re not a giant. We’re not selling tens of thousands of homes, and we’re focusing on bringing value to smaller segments of customers at the moment,” Hartman said.