Luxury car maker BMW AG wants to bring its dealerships into the digital age, recommending they rip out showroom cubicles, install flat screen displays and hire “product geniuses” to explain the complex technology in its cars without the pressure to close a sale.
BMW’s new program could mean, among other things, fewer sales people and fewer cars on showroom floors, and more information delivered through video displays and by employees who are “definitely, definitely not salesmen,” said sales and marketing chief Ian Robertson.
BMW’s plan reflects a broader anxiety among auto company executives and independent dealers that consumers accustomed to online shopping and the ultraclean look of Apple Inc. ‘s stores are increasingly impatient with the 20th Century ambience of most auto dealerships.
“When people go on the Web, they can watch videos and read reviews,” said Karl Schmidt, chief executive of Morrie’s Automotive Group in Minnetonka, Minn. “The showroom will reflect that a lot more. There will be fewer balloons, fewer banners and more digital, more hands-on.” Mr. Schmidt is part of an industry group studying how future dealerships might look and operate.
Related: Asymcar 4: Death of a Salesman.