Ford is looking to redefine the concept of retail sales and allow customers to discover Ford products and services in a more casual and open setting. They came up with something called “Smart Lab,” and the first such location in North America opened today in Quebec City.
In collaboration with Desjardins Auto Collection, the new Smart Lab at Les Galeries de la Capitale aims to address consumer shopping and buying preferences, which are constantly changing, by taking a more holistic approach to the customer experience.
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According to Ford, while consumers prefer to browse online first, they also want a physical experience where they can see, touch and drive the vehicle, with no pressure on them to buy it the very same day. Also, there must be a way to increase interest from people who may not have been considering a Ford vehicle.
The new formula is inspired by a successful retail mall concept developed by Ford dealers in Turin, Italy. The Smart Lab is a small retail point located in a high-traffic area (les Galeries de la Capitale attracts more than 10 million visitors each year) surrounded by shops, food and entertainment.
On site, approachable and enthusiastic advisors interact with visitors and help generate a buzz around the brand. People can test drive Ford vehicles on nearby streets, and those who are prepared to make a purchase can do so through the associated dealership.
"When Ford of Canada approached me about opening a Smart Lab, I was excited," said Jean-Luc Desjardins, owner of four Ford dealerships in Quebec. "I’m always looking for ways to reach new customers and deliver a unique experience, and the Smart Lab concept gives me that opportunity.”
Following the Smart Lab in Brussels last month and now the one in Quebec City, Ford plans to roll out four additional designs by the end of 2019. The automaker already has doubled its investment in customer experiences this year.