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The Retail Store Resurgence is here: How close will the automotive industry follow suit?

The Retail Store Resurgence is here: How close will the automotive industry follow suit?

The article "The Resurgence Of Retail: Why Stores Are Gaining Favor Among Brands," recently featured in Forbes, caught my eye.

It sheds light on a changing trend in the retail industry, where physical stores are making a comeback despite the overwhelming dominance of ecommerce in the digital age. The reason behind this shift is simple: e-commerce has become a bit like yesterday's news, losing its sparkle and charm.

In contrast, brick-and-mortar stores offer a unique and immersive shopping experience. They allow customers to touch, feel, and interact with products in a way that online shopping can't match. This becomes especially important in today's crowded digital marketplace, where standing out can be as tricky as finding a needle in a haystack.

What's more, physical stores are proving their worth as both places to make transactions and as marketing tools. They can create unforgettable, multi-sensory marketing experiences that capture customers' attention and, most importantly, boost sales both in-store and online.

And let's not forget about us, the consumers. Most are no longer content with just one way to shop and want a seamless blend of online and in-store experiences, showing that even in this digital age, having a physical presence is still a big deal.

In summary, the retail journey for many retailers started in physical stores, moved online, and is now swinging back towards a more enhanced physical presence combined with online convenience. This model seems to appeal to everyone who craves a complete shopping experience.

How dissimilar is this trend in the car industry?

It began the same way as in retail, where customers had to settle for whatever they got. As competition intensified, car manufacturers pushed dealers to upgrade their showrooms to make them more and more impressive. However, even the most enormous glass panes failed to create truly remarkable customer experiences.

At some point, manufacturers also started building flagship stores in city centres and shopping malls, aiming to make them immersive spaces that revolve around the brand. This strategy remains at the heart of the approach for some new players.

Then came the digital detour as car makers ventured into online sales following the ecommerce wave in the retail sector. For some, it was a way to phase out dealer networks; for others, it was a way to keep pace with the digital transition. Some newcomers even went all-in on digital journeys.

However, there will come a time when buying or leasing a car from your living room loses its shine, even for the most tech-savvy buyers, much like the ecommerce fatigue we see in retail.

So, what's the next step on this journey?

Going back to the old-school dealership experience seems unlikely because, let's be honest, it never really had that much appeal to begin with.

Could the focus shift back to flagship stores, multiplying their numbers and turning them into both experiential hubs and delivery centres that cover a wider geographic area?

Or would we see an absolute makeover of dealer networks, transforming them into immersive customer experience centres that resemble the evolving retail storefronts described in the article?

The evolving dance between digital and physical experiences is fascinating, and I can't wait to see where it leads in the years to come.


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