The traditional car dealership model is set to dramatically change, according to BMW Group’s head of premium retail experience, Michele Fuhs.
Fuhs said, “nothing will happen in ten days, but I can’t tell you that automotive retail will look the same in 10-15 years.”
Fuhs made the comments at BMW’s future of retail symposium at its flagship Amsterdam dealer in the Netherlands. Speakers from other brands, as well as architects and designers, gathered to discuss the change in store for automotive retail, as the industry prepares for the shift to mobility schemes, increased urbanisation and growing product ranges.
BMW’s range is already too big for dealerships compared with a few years ago, when it primarily consisted of only the 3 Series, 5 Series and 7 Series, admitted Fuhs. The current BMW line-up has ten times as many models as only around a decade ago.
“We have to completely revolutionise our network; we can’t have 24,000 square feet in central Amsterdam,” said Fuhs.
Numerous ideas about future retail solutions were discussed and floated, including the possibility of boutique-style stores, more experience-based brand spaces, and both physical and digital presences. A virtual showroom, like the Rockar ones employed by Hyundai and Jaguar Land Rover, were conspicuous in their lack of discussion, however.
Small changes to the dealer network of BMW will be made in the near future, instead of large-scale investment and dealer overhaul, Fuhs said. However, a more interactive experience of car retail is planned to be implemented by 2018, with a 'fully experiential retail experience' coming two years later.
Fuhs’s comments followed the announcement that BMW will launch a brand consultancy arm to advise other firms on their branding, and comes not long after Audi announced the profound change in store for the production line as we know it.