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Death of Brick and Mortar Isn’t Inevitable

The days of walking into a store and purchasing an item are becoming a thing of the past. The rising trend of online shopping epitomized in retail sales has been no stranger to the automotive space, either.

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Over the past 10 years the consistent message from consumer experts has been very similar: The days of walking into a store and purchasing an item are becoming a thing of the past. The rising trend of online shopping epitomized in retail sales has been no stranger to the automotive space, either. With brands like Carvana, Vroom or Cars.com popping up, it can be even harder to capture the attention of your area market and get in the door — or potentially not.

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CNN Money recently summed up the growth and resurgence that retail chain Macy’s has had over the past year, which lead to a 30-percent uptick in overall market share value. The main shift in the retail strategy was simple: They transitioned from what I would call the Field of Dreams strategy (“If you build it, they with come”) to a customer-centered strategy. The curated experience has become a staple of 21st century selling and the experience of the purchase in a lot of ways can be more essential than the actual item being sold itself.

Realistically there are three major points that dealers can glean from the Macy’s strategy transition:

  1. Evaluate your physical space and the message it sends to your consumers. Macy’s first realized they had too much capital tied up in their stores, so they consolidated to essential spaces and streamlined the physical shopping experience. For the dealer, this would entail looking at your space with the customer in mind. Try to experience your store with new eyes. Is it clean? Does the layout of desks/waiting areas/sales rep contact zones reflect your sales vision? Do we need something as simple as a fresh coat of paint? Some small adjustments with your customer in mind could leave a lasting impression.
  2. Your website isn’t just a catalog of products. Macy’s realized that, to have a healthy physical business, they needed to ensure they had a healthy digital presence. With clothing sales, much like cars, many people still want to try the product before they buy. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t want to vet your organization and its offerings before coming through the door. View your site as more of a handshake and an informational source between you and your client. The more content and value you can provide the better.
  3. Closely monitoring your market community allows for the best execution of strategy. As a multinational company, Macy’s market community is larger than that of the local dealer. For Macy’s, this meant doubling down on international shoppers. Dealers can look at their available market and fill a need other than providing vehicles. Does the local Lions Club need a meeting space that would fit in one of your training rooms? Is the high school down the road running a fundraiser that you could co-sponsor and host an event on your lot? Community engagement and genuine will to make an impact without the assumption that there is some kind of quid pro quo (“I’m doing this so you’ll buy a car.”) can give your brand a positive perception and set you up for long-term business and repeat customers.

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