What do the following have in common: Seat, Hyundai, Tesla, Bentley, Land Rover, Jaguar?
Yes, they are certainly all cars and all available in the UK. But somewhat more specifically, by the end of this month, they will all be available in shopping centres – most of them already are.
From the super-luxe of Bentley, which has just opened a digital experience in Westfield London’s designer section The Village, to the outdoor location that has been given to Seat in intu Lakeside, car brands are turning to shopping centres as a new source of sales.
Up to a point, this is understandable with, say Hyundai, where, drawn in to the digitally-connected showroom in Bluewater, the unit price is low enough to almost buy on a whim.
But what about Bentley? Even allowing for its ritzy ‘village’ neighbours, it doesn’t seem probable that people will walk through the door and order new wheels on the spot.
Apps to design your dream car
Instead, the appeal will be to a much broader audience, who may be able to afford some of the brand accessories or who want to design the car of their dreams using the Inspirator app.
Whatever the motivation, the steady rise in the number of car brands ready to take space in shopping centres is a reflection of the recognition that these are destinations with high footfall, filled with consumers who are in buying mode.
Yet seriously, would you really choose to buy a car when out looking for a new frock or suit for that forthcoming presentation you’ve got to make next week?
Maybe not, but it only takes a small coalition of the willing for the numbers and the economic case to be made when it comes to selling cars in a shopping centre.
In-store tech creates Tardis showrooms
The only question is how far this can go and where it goes next? Car showrooms tend to be located en masse at the edge of large centres of population. It’s a question of available space and low(er) price per square foot when it comes to car showrooms. In-store digital developments mean, however, that only a few models need to be on display. Customers can find out all they need via a screen and with the help of a friendly car salesman.
We are set to see a lot more of these, and they show how shopping centres are changing shape once more.