A majority of Americans find the car buying process to be unpleasant—but to their credit, dealers know that and are trying their best to change it. More and more, the focus is shifting away from the vehicles themselves and toward the actual consumer experience.
Some are now offering door-to-door test drives for car buyers and some like Lincoln Experience Center, which has just opened at Newport Beach, California. It’s part of a major shopping center, allowing consumers to spend the day browsing for sweaters, shoes, electronics—and then maybe a brand new Lincoln.
As they do so, they will find a long list of amenities waiting for them, including complimentary drinks. Of course, consumers who venture to the Lincoln Experience Center will also be able to test drive new vehicles.
“Guests will have an opportunity to explore the brand, discover the design inspiration behind the different Lincoln cars and SUVs, customize their perfect vehicle and take it for a test-drive,” Lincoln has said in an official statement. “Should they be interested in purchasing it, a host at the Lincoln Experience Center will connect them with the dealer who is most convenient for them.”
New Ways to Shop for Vehicles
The Lincoln Experience Center is part of a new trend among dealers, who are trying to win back customers who may have crossed over to online car sales instead of traditional showrooms. The emphasis seems to be on making the entire car buying process seamless, comfortable, and easy, a far cry from the high-pressure sales scenarios that many consumers associate with dealerships.
In fact, Lincoln has a whole new sales initiative, The Lincoln Way, that’s devoted to just this concept—promoting its newest vehicles to consumers who may otherwise be turned off from new car dealerships.
And Lincoln is not the only auto company that’s taking these steps. Tesla, too, has brought galleries and “customer experience” setups to shopping malls in California. And then there’s Cadillac, which has announced its first “Retail Lab” in New York, where the company is headquartered.
Of course these are all basically luxury brands, so it would make sense that they seek to exploit the connection between car buying and luxury shopping—but the question is, will other automakers follow this path, and provide consumers with a more refined way to shop for their next vehicle?
Dealerships Focusing More and More on Customer Experience
Only time will tell, but it’s certainly a strategy that many dealerships will consider. What today’s used car sales reps are going up against are online car buying services that allow the customer to browse and buy from the comfort of their home, having the vehicle of their choice delivered right to their door. That’s an enticing prospect—but maybe a luxury buying experience, at a favorite shopping mall, can help combat it.
Keep tabs on what’s going on in the world of dealerships by following along at the Get My Auto blog. We will have more on this trend as it develops.