Mercedes-Benz India’s Retail of the Future D2C sales model is live: Here’s how the buying experience will change

Mercedes-Benz India has gone live with its new ‘Retail of the Future’ (ROTF) direct-to-consumer sales model. Under this business model, Mercedes-Benz India owns the entire centralised vehicle stock and will directly invoice a purchase to the buyer, in addition to handling order processing and fulfilment. India becomes the first CKD market – and only the fourth market for M-B globally after Sweden, South Africa and Austria - to adopt ROTF.

With ROTF, Mercedes-Benz India will sell its vehicles directly to customers, with all dealers now competing to provide "the best customer experience", in the words of Mercedes-Benz India MD and CEO Martin Schwenk. Thanks to this new model, customers will be able to check vehicle availability across the country in real-time, and will also be able to view Mercedes-Benz India's production pipeline for the next three months. Over 1,700 cars and SUVs have already been booked via Mercedes-Benz India's 'Retail of the Future' direct-to-consumer sales model in the last three weeks.

Mercedes-Benz India will own all vehicle stocks under ROTF, while dealers will compete to provide "the best customer experience". Image: Mercedes-Benz

Once a customer has made a booking by paying Rs 50,000, Mercedes-Benz India will relay the VIN number of the vehicle reserved for the customer, who will have to finalise the purchase within the next two weeks, and in case they change their mind, Mercedes-Benz India will provide a full refund, no questions asked. Following full payment, Mercedes-Benz India will share the invoice with the customer within a week’s time.

With ROTF, customers will be able to submit all their documents required for vehicle purchase online, and will also be able to view the status of their order along with the expected delivery date. Once all documents have been validated, the delivery will be completed at either the dealership closest to the customer, or at the buyer’s doorstep. Mercedes also promises that for the first time in India, there will be no incidental or extra charges levied on any purchase.

With Mercedes-Benz India making the entire pool of cars in stock available to buyers, prospective customers will benefit from a single price for every model across the country, and also have a wider variety of models and specifications to choose from, as they won’t be bound by the options available at a particular dealership. Even if the vehicle allotted to a buyer is in another city, it will be dispatched to the customer’s city as soon as one places a booking.

Additionally, Mercedes-Benz is eliminating the practice of price negotiation entirely by offering what it calls the ‘best price’, which will be available to buyers straight from the manufacturer. Customers will also be able to easily compare model-wise prices, which will further simplify the purchase process. Buyers will still get discounts/benefits on select models, but these will now be controlled entirely by Mercedes-Benz India. Customers will be able to avail loyalty and corporate benefits, wherever applicable, and these will be the same across India.

While dealers will continue to be the point of contact for customers as they will facilitate the purchase, the benefit for them, according to Mercedes, will be that they own no inventory under this business model, and hence benefit from a lower cost structure and carry little market-facing risk. They will be directly compensated by Mercedes-Benz India for vehicle sales, and will continue to develop local market requirements, retail marketing activities, lead generation and manage customer relationships. There will be no change to existing dealer infrastructure.

It's important to note that the ROTF business model will only apply to Mercedes-Benz India’s new car business. Its pre-owned car business and other business lines will continue as before.



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