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Is Volkswagen’s WAP site a mobile commerce offering?

October 13, 2009

Users can get quotes and browser for special offers

Users can get quotes and browser for special offers

Volkswagen of America’s new WAP site acts sort of like a shopping assistant. But does that qualify it as a mobile commerce offering?

On the site, consumers can do several functions such as get a quote, find a dealer, click-to-call and find special offers, all from their smartphone. Volkswagen hopes that this new site will help drive consumers to a dealership to make a purchase. But mobile executives have mixed emotions on whether the WAP is a mobile commerce site.

“Volkswagen’s mobile Web site acknowledges they understand that the power of mobile commerce is getting someone as close to on-site purchase as possible,” said Scott Dunlap, CEO of NearbyNow, Mountain View, CA. “Their site inspires, answers questions and points you to the closest place to test drive [a vehicle].”

“If you’ve configured your dream car on your phone and know where to get it, all that’s left is paperwork and a set of keys,” he said.
Volkswagen of American is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG and produces automobile models such as the new Beetle, new Beetle convertible, Jetta and Passat.

On the new site located at, consumers can enter their ZIP code to receive special offers on a regional and national level, as well as find the closest Volkswagen dealer.

Consumers can narrow down their searches by selecting different offer types such as lease specials, APR specials or owner specials, or search offers organized by car model.

To schedule a test drive, a consumer selects the model car they are interested in, the trim they want and their contact info. Then, the user will be asked the preferred method for Volkswagen to contact them and add their contact information, select a time and location and submit the request.

Getting a quote on the site requires the same steps as scheduling a test drive. A VW representative will contact the consumer with the quote once all the information has been received.

Despite all these features, Neil Strother, Kirkland, WA-based analyst at Forrester Research said that he would call the new site a mobile shopping tool rather than mobile commerce.

“It does help move prospects closer to a purchase by giving them car model options, quotes and setting up a test drive, but when I think of mobile commerce, it usually implies completing a purchase,” Mr. Strother said. “And I don’t see that here in the VW example, at least not yet.

“Nonetheless, this type of tool can be useful, especially as a buyer is out there at various dealers looking to do some comparison shopping,” he said.

Consumers can also download ringtones and wallpaper from the site and click to follow the car manufacturer on Facebook.

The mobile site was designed and implemented by interactive agency AKQA.

To be mobile commerce or not to be?
Gary Schwartz, president/CEO of Impact Mobile, said that mobile marketing companies in search of more market ROI have been calling mobile marketing services mobile commerce services.

“In the case of automotive applications like VW, these mobile tools are acquisition tools: pre-commerce engagement,” Mr. Schwartz said. “For an automotive brand, mobile is used in a similar way to online acquisition strategies – it drives the consumer to ROI calculators.

“This lead generation is pivotal to the sales process,” he said. “However, the commerce of sale is not directly connected as it potentially is with a CPG brand.”

Marcus Startzel, senior vice president of sales at Millennial Media, said that the VW site is a great example of a major advertiser using mobile to engage consumers on several levels.

Mr. Startzel said that it is not about the most engaging creatives possible on mobile, but rather it is about the overall metrics.

Despite being able to receive promotions, quotes and schedule a test drive, consumers cannot purchase a car over their mobile phone on VW’s site.

“Although no transactions occur on the site, for a highly considered purchase like a car, this really shows that mobile is a great way to keep an auto brand in the consideration set as consumers move closer to the purchase,” Mr. Startzel said.

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Chirs Harnick is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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