Alibaba is one of the giants of retail in the market. The company has made a deal with Ford in China to manufacture electric vehicles to facilitate sales. Customers will scan a car that they are interested in using the Taobao shopping app. The app is also developed by Alibaba. They can then pick a color, enter some basic information and take a selfie. The selfie will be used to identify the individual when they head over to the unmanned vending machine for delivery.
For recognition of the individual, Facial recognition technology is used. It matches the person with their order and the corresponding vehicle is taken out of the storage then. At this point, they have three days to test the vehicle in order to determine whether they want to make a purchase. When they have made up their minds, they can take the smartphone app to pay for it or return the car and schedule another test drive.
Customers are limited to five test periods every two months to ensure that the system isn’t used as a free car hire service. Moreover, they need to qualify as an Alibaba Super Member and have reached a certain level of the company’s scoring service. This is not the first time that we have seen an automated car dealership and it’s not the first time Alibaba has sold vehicles, however, coming from this vendor means that this could probably go on a large scale.
Alibaba intends to open the two facilities in January 2018. One will be in Shanghai and another one will be in Nanjing. Assuming they are a success, the company hopes to introduce dozen more vending machines across China over the course of the next year.