August 1, 2021

Mini rolls out online retail platform Mini Anywhere

Mini USA is rolling out its own all-online retail platform, a move that comes after the COVID-19 pandemic left it and other automakers scrambling to offer more online sales options to digital-savvy customers.

The company is touting the new platform, Mini Anywhere, as a fully digital end-to-end shopping tool for customers who want to buy a car from any location.

Demoed during a Wednesday press conference, 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.

A survey commissioned by Mini showed 60 percent of respondents are willing to go through an entire vehicle-buying journey via digital platforms, which “reinforces this point we’ve heard, which is we will never go back to the way it was,” said Patrick McKenna, head of marketing, product and strategy at Mini USA.

Mini officials painted a very precise picture: The goal is to get customers through the portal in as little as 30 minutes. However, they admitted the credit approval process, an included step to double-check a vehicle’s availability and driver’s license verification could tack on time.

Mini Anywhere is in a pilot phase in a handful of Mini’s California dealerships. The plan is to next launch the tool in Florida and Texas. The automaker is aiming for it to be rolled out to all 115 of its U.S. dealerships by mid-December.

Mini Anywhere doesn’t currently support cash sales, but adding that option is on the automaker’s to-do list.

The automaker met with several vendors and ended up partnering with Otoz, a NETSOL Technologies subsidiary, to build the e-commerce platform. It’s a collaboration between Mini USA and Mini Financial Services, which put developmental work into the tool’s credit application processing and contract validation.

The platform integrates Mini’s Flipped Financing program, which the brand introduced in 2019. The program gives all approved credit applicants one interest rate upfront.

Mini isn’t requiring dealerships to use the platform. Instead, it’ll be part of a pool of retail tools from which they can choose, Mini officials said.

At the moment, the platform only offers new vehicles.

“Right now we’re new-car-only, but our goal is to add used cars,” McKenna said. “The month of August is our tentative timing.”