Mitsubishi will be trying out a new store layout that it's hoping will be more cost-effective for dealers to come downtown and more convenient for customers to find them there. It's a more boutique style of retail that separates sales and service physically, but with a shuttle service connecting facilities.
Car dealerships take up a lot of space, which is why you normally see them in clusters on the edge of town. That's because they need large spaces for service departments and to store inventory, as well as a showroom for customers to enter and be sold vehicles. Mitsubishi says that the new urban boutique concept can separate the various parts of the dealership, adding some concierges to bridge the different portions, and allowing dealers to put a store in "high-traffic, high-rent urban settings" they couldn't otherwise occupy.
The strategy is to put the showroom downtown, or in the busier area of town, with the service and storage centres "in industrial low-rent spaces a few kilometres away." Then a dedicated concierge can pick up the slack in the middle: picking up your vehicle for service directly from your home, something usually reserved for luxury brands, or taking it from showroom to service bay. The concierge could also bring vehicles directly to the home for test drives.
"The automotive shopping experience has changed. There is more online research and fewer trips to the dealership as part of the consideration and purchasing process. Creating opportunities that bring the retail face of the brand closer to the customer helps Mitsubishi Motors develop a stronger brand presence and helps us to differentiate our brand," said Paul Simmonds, vice-president, Sales & Marketing, Mitsubishi Canada.
Mitsubishi is currently building a store using this concept in downtown Vancouver, with other locations under consideration.