Imagine being able to buy a car in five minutes while shopping at your local mall. Picture yourself walking into a dealership, not being bombarded with overzealous salespeople, and for once, not having the feeling that you are going to be ripped off on price. That’s Rockar.
Rockar opened it’s pilot store in November 2014 in partnership with Hyundai to experiment with a totally new way of purchasing cars. The new dealership model, located inside the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent, UK, combines the best of both the online and in-store experiences, and is expected to receive more visitors in its first year than all 160 other Hyundai dealerships in Britain combined.
The store features a primarily digital showroom with four cars on display inside, and every step of the purchasing process takes place digitally. Shoppers can use tablets provided inside the store, their own mobile devices, or choose to continue the process in their own home by registering a few personal details. The company has noted that about half of its sales are completed at home or via mobile devices. The smaller physical space needed for the Rockar dealership also allows them to target affluent customers in condensed urban areas where having a full lot of inventory isn’t possible, and gives them the opportunity to tap into an area where they have less competition.
There are store associates available throughout the store, called “Angels,” who are not on a commission-based salary. Their job is to educate and share relevant information with potential customers. This new approach makes buying a car much less intimidating compared to traditional dealerships. With Rockar, it’s possible to buy a car entirely online without ever speaking to a staff member.
With a recent announcement of a successful first run, they’re planning to open more of their innovative dealership stores. Here are a few things retailers can learn from Rockar’s success:
Shoppers want to decide when and where they make purchase decisions.
While about 90% of purchases still happen in retail stores, numerous industry studies including Deloitte and Retail Systems Research discovered that 49% of consumers are influenced by digital data to research and plan potential purchases beforehand, with analysts expecting that number to grow to 64% in 2015. With access to countless devices and channels, shoppers have many options and they each have their own preferences. Shoppers should be able to use their preferences to research and shop with brands they love as they see fit. Rockar does this with it’s physical presence and the digital options it provides to shoppers, giving them the freedom to make purchases on their own terms.
Shoppers want to choose when and if they interact with store associates, and they want those interactions to be genuine.
Many retailers today struggle with understanding how to sell to increasingly more informed shoppers. The traditional role of the sales associate has changed as shoppers become less interested in being sold to and more interested in genuine, personal connections. In a study published last month, Deloitte University Press noted that it would be naive for retailers to assume that modern consumers no longer need human interactions. Of the consumers surveyed, 48% indicated that a knowledgeable store associate may increase their likelihood of purchasing something. Rockar reconciles this trend by taking commission-based sales off the table and having their “angels” be informational guides rather than conventional salespeople. This allows for personal relationships to unfold authentically and creates an environment where shoppers feel welcome and comfortable.
Shoppers want the touch and feel aspect of physical spaces while still be able to use their choice of technology to make researching and purchasing easier.
The reason physical storefronts haven’t died out (and probably never will) is because people want to be able to sense products they’re interested in. They want to touch, feel, and experience a product to decide how it will fit into their lives. Rockar makes this happen by having open showcase cars inside the store, having other popular models on hand, and allowing shoppers to go on test drives on their own.
The tradition of test drives, though, is a bit of a pitfall — a ritual that doesn’t need to continue in this new way of car-buying. Similar to the way Trunk Club or Casper Mattresses allow customers a trial period after purchase so they can send back what they don’t love, Rockar could do the same. If a shopper decides to complete their entire purchase online, but still needs to break away from their preferred channel to get to a dealership for a test drive, this creates an unnecessary break in their experience.
Today’s retail landscape puts the customer first and brands need to be proactive in meeting their customers interests. Rockar understands that truth and has transformed a space that generally carries a lot of pressure to one that gives shoppers choices and makes sure their car-buying experience feels as seamless and natural as possible.