September 23, 2010, 6:26 PM

Mazda makes a turn into online sales

The automaker is working with IBM’s WebSphere Commerce to provide its dealers with e-commerce sites.

Although the motor vehicle industry has shied away from rolling out transactional web sites where customers can make purchases online, Mazda North America Operations is taking a new online transactional route with its U.S. dealer network.

The company is working with IBM Corp.’s WebSphere Commerce e-commerce platform to make it possible for each of its 600 dealers in the U.S. to build their own e-commerce site, says James DiMarzio, chief information officer of Mazda North American Operations. The sites are designed to support the online sale of car parts and accessories as well as for researching vehicles and scheduling showroom appointments.

"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.

The WebSphere platform provides integration with PayPal for processing online payment transactions, integration with UPS for producing shipping labels and preparing packages for shipment, and a content management template that lets each dealer deploy a customized site with its own combination of features like product descriptions, coupons, promotions, customer ratings and reviews, and links to social networks.

The WebSphere platform also links each dealer’s site to Mazda’s centralized parts and accessories inventory management system, enabling each site to show updated product availability and automatically process orders with accurate product data, Mazda says. Customers can request to have orders delivered to their homes or to their local dealer for installation.

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