A few months ago, I had written about Citroën’s small-format dealerships called ‘La Maison’. The idea of such a format is to have small physical dealerships with only about two cars on display, and a very warm and cozy atmosphere. I liked the plan because, as a customer, you simply want to see the car you’re considering and have a meaningful drive experience. The extra fluff like like massive displays, cut sections, play zones, while all definitely add to the ambience, could be done away with. And of course, the main driver behind the format – cutting costs and improving dealer profitability – is a good thing in today’s times.
Now taking this thought a step further is MG, with its ‘digital showrooms or, as they cleverly call it, ‘a car-less showroom’. I’ll admit when I first heard digital showroom I thought: ‘Hold on. Isn’t that your mobile phone, or laptop or smart TV or any internet-connected screen today? Why would you get out of your house, go to a showroom only to see a car on a giant screen?’ But, of course, the concept isn’t completely car-less; there will be test-drive cars parked nearby, outside the showroom.
But I have to say, I’m sceptical about this. The thing is, as I said earlier, the customer wants to see the car they are considering and have a good driving experience. But just getting to see the car on a giant screen just doesn’t do it for me. Also, seeing the car parked outside isn’t going to be a very comfortable or enjoyable experience, considering our hot and humid climate, and noisy environs.
And it’s here where MG could potentially lose a few good ‘moments of truth’.
Doing a walkaround in a showroom is comfortable, it makes the customer more receptive, and also gives the sales consultant ample time to highlight the positives of the car, like its styling details, and things like the solid thunk of a closing door, and the flexibility of rear-folding seats and boot space. Moreover, a car-less floor could also take away from that grand feeling of buying a car.
However, with digital showrooms, MG can have even smaller spaces, which means more savings for the dealer. It also gives the company the flexibility of having showrooms just about anywhere, like on the top floor of a mall, or in a commercial building. It can focus purely on location and footfall, and not worry about access to get a car indoors. So perhaps this is a small sacrifice to make.
In any case, I don’t see this as being the only format of dealerships that will exist, as MG will keep its mix of traditional, digital and mobile too. So stay tuned, your next MG is coming soon to a screen near you.