This headline on the Forbes website caught our eye “BMW Radically Rethinks The Car Buying Experience”. The distribution of motor cars has remained unchanged almost since the start of the industry. Car makers sell through ‘dealerships’ to customers. The basis of this approach is that the manufacturers are good at making cars, whilst dealerships are good at selling them. But BMW have realised that their products are increasingly complex in two ways – first, each car itself is highly technical and sophisticated, and second the range of cars they produce is growing in variety.
Hence BMW have developed a new retail strategy in order to address this, at the heart of which is the ‘product genius’. This job is not a sales role, and they are not paid on a commission basis. Their role is to answer all the questions customers may have about BMW cars and to enhance customer satisfaction, both pre- and post-purchase. So far the company has recruited 900 such people, from a wide variety of backgrounds, and plan to increase this to 2,000 over the next year. One product genius will be placed in each dealer’s showroom. Initially dealers were sceptical about having to hire an extra person, whose role was not to sell cars, but experience has shown that customer satisfaction has increased and sales have gone up.
Other aspects of BMW’s new retail strategy are:
- redesigned servicescape – with “open floor plans”, large screens, and tables instead of desks
- enhanced web site with more interactivity