March 19, 2019
German automaker Porsche is rolling out a new approach to dealerships as more brands are focusing on brand experiences in the physical retail space.
The first “Destination Porsche” concept dealership is now open in Palm Springs, CA. Moving forward, Porsche Centres will be viewed as a community gathering place for new and current customers, with an added emphasis on digital media that can individualize communication.
“We were mainly driven by the idea of making the Porsche Centre a central gathering place for the Porsche community, which is a very strong one,” said Nadescha Vornehm, spokesperson for sales and marketing at Porsche. “Also, we were inspired by societal changes, such as individualization, which makes a higher degree of flexibility necessary.”
Following the opening of the updated Porsche dealership in Palm Springs, the Destination concept is also being applied to Porsche Centres in Dortmund, Germany and Hangzhou, China.
In Palm Springs, the exterior aluminum façade was partially opened, offering a welcoming look inside the facility. Aluminum panels above the main entrance and red LED lighting – resembling a 911 – make the location stand out further.
As more Porsche Centres are revamped, those locations will also keep their original structure while new architectural and technological elements are introduced. Porsche has nearly 200 dealerships in the United States alone.
Inside, themed modules can be easily adjusted for customization at each location. For instance, cars can be categorized by Product Highlights, E-Performance or Certified Pre-Owned.
Lounge area at a redesigned Porsche dealership. Image credit: Porsche
Lounge areas are meant to encourage conversations between consumers and other Porsche fans. A window will also offer a glimpse into the workshop for a more intimate touch.
Interactive media will also be found throughout the dealerships.
A virtual reality experience will allow drivers to see their own car configurations. Touchscreens will let customers learn more about Porsche products and services, and larger digital screens allow for locations to host viewing parties and other events.
Destination Porsche dealerships will also host pop-up events, and digital communications will continue to evolve.
Even before introducing the Destination Porsche concept, the automaker had a solid reputation for using technology to improve customer communications at dealerships.
Porsche offers the most satisfactory dealership service experience among both luxury and mass-market car brands, according to J.D. Power’s Customer Service Index (CSI) Study. This is the first time Porsche has topped the list for dealer service satisfaction in the index’s nearly 40-year history.
Open communication is crucial in keeping drivers satisfied, especially during service visits. Drivers who have all-digital versus all-analog experiences are more pleased by 75 points (see story).
Although the automotive industry has slowly seen adoption of digital strategies, in-person experiences remain essential for affluent drivers.
In the span of a few weeks, U.S. automaker Tesla announced and then scaled back plans to close the majority of its physical locations.
The electric vehicle manufacturer is now rerouting its plans back to bricks-and-mortar retail and raising prices instead. This reversal hints at the continued and possibly under-appreciated value of physical retail, especially since many dealership experiences cannot be replicated online (see story).