What do you get when you run a dealership like an Apple Store?
A line of hipsters camped out for the 2017 models.
Okay, that’s a bad joke. But a more realistic punchline would be “a lot more sales.”
Before Apple came onto the scene, computer shopping used to be a huge pain. According to recent research by DrivingSales, shoppers feel much the same about car shopping today – 99% expect the process to be a hassle. This may seem like bad news, but for those opportunists and positive thinkers in the crowd, this statistic signifies that there is a major opportunity for dealerships that can set themselves apart with a winning Customer Experience (CX).
When faced with similar shopper attitudes, Apple is a company that took full advantage, and now they’re reaping the rewards. At $5,546 per square foot annually (eMarketer), Apple stores have the highest sales per square foot of any retail environment – including luxury retailers such as Tiffany’s. Thus, who better for dealerships to learn from than them?
Below, we’ve laid out three CX hacks dealers can learn from Apple.
Apple built their stores around simplicity, openness, and efficiency. These are design elements which convey trustworthiness, transparency, and professionalism. Apple stores have an open floor plan – keeping everything from their products to their customer service to their registers all in the same large, open area. This creates a feeling of openness and transparency – all processes being out in the open means there’s nothing to hide. Similarly, they enhance trust and professionalism with a clean, chrome and white layout – using bright colors as accents and highlights rather than themes. More focus on designing their retail space to instill trust and confidence made Apple synonymous with incredible customer experience, and helped them build their massive fan base.
Dealer Takeaway: Use your store and website design to do more than look nice – optimize it to instill feelings of trust and confidence in your buying process. Follow user-focused design rules and take you dealership’s appearance to the next level.
Beyond just the design of their stores, there are lessons to be learned in how Apple conducts its sales process as well. Apple employs a no-pressure sales process – it’s more about getting people excited and making it easy to buy their products than it is about making it easy to sell. Apple stores allow and encourage people to wander in, play with the devices, get familiar with the products, discover new features, and educate themselves at their leisure. Salespeople are present, but don’t interrupt or try to push the customer to purchase.
Dealer Takeaway: Allow shoppers to have control over the buying process, taking it at their pace. Empower sales staff to assist without pressuring, offer product knowledge and education, and help guide the process when needed.
The Apple store and sales process are both fascinating, but the real triumph of Apple was the realization that focusing on customer experience meant they didn’t have to drop their prices to compete. In an industry rife with frustrated and discontented customers, Apple built an experience so much better than that of the competition that millions of people are willing to pay substantially more to avoid being frustrated by a poor experience.
Dealer Takeaway: Focus on improving the customer experience. People are willing to pay more for their preferred dealership experience, so focus on that, avoid the price wars, and enjoy better margins as a result. In fact, according to a 2015 AutoTrader report, 66% of shoppers will be much more likely to buy from a dealership with their preferred experience.
Apple may not sell cars, but there are many lessons dealerships can learn from their success. By focusing on improving the customer experience through trustworthy appearance and a no-pressure sales process, Apple was able to build themselves into the powerhouse they are today. It’s time for dealerships to do the same.