BMW explores new retail options

25 May 2012

PARIS: BMW, the automaker, is planning to experiment with several "new retail formats" as a means of engaging consumers in original ways.

The firm has just opened its first new "brand store" in Paris, which is based on Avenue George V, an exclusive area of the city, and which was designed by Eric Carlson, a specialist in luxury retail.

According to the company, this 800-square metre store will help it "reach out to shoppers", and lets visitors "experience the brand in their chosen environment".

Looking forward, it revealed that consumers "can expect" to see a "number of new retail formats" covering both its eponymous and MINI marques, alongside a revamped online and social presence.

"The world of retail has changed significantly – customer behaviour, needs and expectations have changed, as well as communication technology," Ian Robertson, BMW's head sales and marketing, said.

Many showrooms are also being remodelled, with certain outlets in London, Munich and Zurich already providing "virtual product presentations" for prospects considering making a purchase.

These efforts form part of the firm's Future Retail platform, which has the stated aim of increasing its range of "contact points" with current and potential drivers.

Further objectives of this initiative include augmenting the services and benefits that the organisation makes available, and delivering an "enhanced retail experience at all touchpoints".

"We critically reviewed our processes and customer feedback. We will now build upon our strengths and implement a comprehensive programme ... designed to enhance the customer experience and to set new standards for retail in the automotive industry and beyond," said Robertson.

BMW is also creating the position of "Product Genius" in dealerships, offering highly in-depth information about its cars, and showing customers video, alongside vehicle details and configuration options, via a tablet PC containing bespoke software.

Among the initial markets where this scheme will be rolled out are China, France, the Netherlands and the UK.

Robertson said: "Throughout all of this and supported by an increased number of customer contact points with our brands, the dealer's role becomes even more essential - as our face to the customer and the provider of a true, personal and emotional, premium experience."

Data sourced from BMW; additional content by Warc staff