eBay Sales and Twitter chats: The New GM
CNBC Auto and Airline Industry Reporter
One month after exiting bankruptcy and vowing to do business differently, GM is going on-line as it strives to improve its bottom line.
The auto maker is teaming up with eBay to sell new cars on line in the state of California.
It's a deal the two companies have been working on for a few months and it should be a win/win.
For GM, selling new models through eBay and delivering them through its dealerships in California can only help the company in a market it has long struggled. Do I expect huge sales through the GM/eBay deal? No. But it is another channel for marketing Chevy and the other GM brands. And in a world where it's tougher and tougher to convince car buyers they should try a particular model, this can only help.
As for eBay, the deal further extends the growing business of eBay motors. There's no doubt a more people are becoming comfortable with the idea of buying and selling used cars and trucks on line. Why wouldn't that extend to new models?
GM's increased focus on the web can be seen in the Twitter and web chats involving GM executives, including CEO Fritz Henderson.
I've sat in for some of these web chats and yes, he does read nearly every question customers and others send him. There's no way he can answer every single e-mail and tweet, but he does get to many.
Is this just a PR gimmick to show the "new" GM will be in touch with customers? No. I believe Henderson genuinely wants the company to have a better connection with customers and having to sit and read both positive and negative e-mails is one way to have executives face reality. Will customers be happy with the e-mails or tweets from Henderson, President Bob Lutz, or other executives? Because of the character limits on Twitter and the volume of e-mails GM gets for its web chats people may fell unfulfilled by the answers.
Still, the message from GM is clear: these guys are no longer operating in a vacuum. They desperately want to have a better sense of what customers are seeking from GM. Henderson and his top lieutenants all realize how close they came to being liquidated. They know they have stop the long, painful, and costly loss of market share in the U.S.
At the end of the day it will come down to doing a better job of selling cars and trucks. Not just in California, but across the country. Chatting on-line about this being a new day at GM is one thing, actually doing it is far different. Fritz Henderson is hoping people are buying what he's selling on-line.
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