Still life in the showroom?

It was interesting and encouraging to hear that Lookers reported a rise in showroom footfall in its recent bullish results. There are many harbingers of doom out there who claims that such premises are likely to become as popular as video rental shops.

One of the latest launches to suggest that customers want alternatives is Shift, a US business based in San Francisco. Shift delivers a car to the home of a potential buyer for them to test drive. If the car pushes the right buttons, then the buyer can purchase it there and then, using the delivery person’s iPad.

This means no showroom visit, and little if any opportunity to sell add-ons or arrange finance – these will need to be done at a later date or in advance. A rival outfit, Carvana, also delivers the car to the buyer’s door, but it requires a commitment to buy first.

Shift claims it exists because it provides the service buyers want and that it is responding, apparently, to the fact fewer are visiting dealerships.

Currently, it would seem this is a questionable assertion. While some buyers may have researched online obsessively, and so know exactly what they want, others will want to check out what’s in the showroom, to be presented with some choice, and even to speak to a helpful adviser.

Perhaps there is a room for a door to door car delivery service, but Shift may be another dot com bubble. Right now, quality premises, top notch coffee and above all great stock and people can still win the day…provided the online offering does the business too.

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