The internet is becoming consumers’ first stop on the way to buying a product. So it’s worth studying an example of a company who’s trying to understand this new way of shopping and to adapt their retail model to suit.

Just remember: it’s all in the name of innovation.

People are often doing the majority, if not all, of their product research and price comparisons online. It’s striking how many people have an encyclopaedic knowledge of where a product is being sold at the lowest price and what reviewers have to say about it.

With this in mind it’s worth asking two questions:

Is there any real need for the majority of businesses to have physical store fronts?

How do we model our sales techniques around a more informed customer?

It’s worth understanding that there are also three fundamentals in retail that customers are looking for:

1. A good service
2. A good price
3. A good product

But is it possible to achieve all three at any one time?

A good product is expensive to the consumer.
Good service is often expensive to the employer.
Good prices are often achieved at the cost of quality.

Where does Hyundai come into this?

Hyundai has recently been praised for changing its way of interfacing with the buying public in order to suit the shift in purchasing behaviour best.

The manufacturer is moving away from a more traditional showroom, placed out of town on larger retail estates, and towards an interactive shop, often inside of a shopping mall. It has been experimenting in the UK with the retailer Rockar at the Bluewater Shopping Mall, just outside of London.

The brand has also cottoned on to the feeling that car sales assistants have a certain reputation – and often not a good one. This is where the Hyundai jumper comes in. Instead of forcing staff to wear very formal suits, the car manufacturer insists on a nice woolly jumper and black trouser combination for its representatives. They’re not there to scare people off; they are sales ‘angels’ rather than assistants or staff. Now, whatever you might think of the change in lingo, it is working; footfall was over 74,000 in the first six months and 95 per cent of the sales have been conquest sales where people are switching from another brand.

The shop front itself will often contain one car on display, but, besides this, iPads are a customer’s main point of interaction. They follow a flow chart of options, choosing their way towards their perfect car. In the particular case of the Bluewater Mall, there are 25 cars in the underground carpark to take for a test drive. The sales angels don’t accompany you; they just help you with the route.

It’s striking how many people have an encyclopaedic knowledge of where a product is being sold at the lowest price. - Highlight to share -

A car configurator is a common feature online, but the ability to interface with ‘angels’ and then immediately go on a test drive – often more than one on any one day – actually means that people feel more in charge of the sales journey.

The emphasis is on technology and process; the retail angels are often specifically picked because they have no prior car sales background. However the slightly novel nature of this practice, plus the obvious ease and lack of pressure, means people are more likely to engage. This is another example of simple innovation to boost both brand reputation and a better ROI.

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How Hyundai is reinventing the showroom