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Going offline: do traditional dealership display methods still work?


With every manufacturer seemingly pushing the online customer experience and a renewed drive for refreshed corporate identity  schemes that incorporate digital elements, is the ‘bunting and balloons’ dealership truly dead? We asked a selection of suppliers and dealers whether traditional on-site tools and devices still have a place in enhancing a dealer’s display of cars.

As reported in am-online, Hyundai is to open a shopping centre store where consumers can buy a car without having to speak to a sales person. In September, Colin Appleyard Cars announced it would open a similar outlet.  

If the majority of buyers are window-shopping or even buying on the internet, dealers may ask; does it really matter how visually appealing the showroom is?

Feedback from the likes of Google and Auto Trader suggests it is very relevant, as the visiting customer needs to see that your business is a trustworthy, professional retailer.

According to Kia, the sales process is still very much a face-to-face experience and feedback from some of its dealers shows a preference for more traditional materials in fostering that relationship.

Mark Hopkins, marketing director for Kia Motors UK, said: “Purchasing a car is still an important process that customers go through from researching online, reading reviews and talking to friends, family and colleagues.

“It is very much a ‘touch and feel’ process, not solely a digital one. By giving our dealerships the freedom to utilise both traditional and digital mediums this gives them the chance to customise their approach to the individual customer.”

The brand is working to upgrade its dealerships with welcoming displays featuring large TV screens showing its walkaround videos, which are uploaded onto Kia’s YouTube channel, but it also includes the more ‘traditional’ tools, such as turntables and display ramps.  

Umesh Samani, the owner of Specialist Cars, Stoke, agreed: “Manufacturers and dealers have to be careful of adding too many ‘non-personal’, self-serve-style showrooms. We all want to be looked after and helped, which means an attractive and welcoming showroom for our customer, and the kettle on.

“I get customers of various age ranges and I know that most of them still like the interaction with people and not just to click away on an iPad.”

Most dealerships, despite the advances in technology and digital equipment, still use promotional flags and banners to advertise their cars, particularly stock that is ageing or special offers.

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