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Commentary: GM firmly grips the e-wheel

The automaker does not want to cede control of customers to a third party; it plans to improve online experiences by enhancing what is available to car buyers.

See news story: GM tells dealers to cut ties with some Web sites

By Adam Sarner, Gartner Analyst

General Motors views independent Web sites where consumers can go to buy automobiles as threats.

These sites do not threaten sales of GM cars; rather, they rob automakers such as GM of the opportunity to control relationships with customers and to sell extra products and services that will make these relationships particularly valuable.

In short, GM does not want to cede control of customers to a third party.

The company's plan for the Internet is to improve consumers' experiences by enhancing what is available to car buyers. The Internet will allow GM to offer a range of goods and services including order tracking, add-ons such as floor mats and accessories, after-market parts, maintenance and service, and in-car Internet access. Tighter relationships with customers will provide GM with cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.

To succeed, the automaker must control everything from the point of sale to the production line. This will enable it to maintain brand consistency for products and services across all sales channels.

GM will therefore try to get dealers to use an application service provider model to deploy Web capabilities to its consumers. This approach will give GM control of all opportunities to gather consumer preferences and personalization data.

A successful customer relationship management strategy requires continuous feedback and interaction with consumers. This sort of strategy will help GM retain customers, offer more attractive value-added services, and promote repeat buying. The selling doesn't have to stop once the car drives off the showroom floor.

Entire contents, Copyright © 2000 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.