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Colin Christie

SUBARU Australia will take the next step in its multi-layered campaign of taking its business to the consumer by introducing mobile sales.

It follows the successful roll-out of its online Build and Buy program that this month has been extended to include all new Subaru models.

It will also link with the continued expansion of the mobile test drive program that will include regional centres, and the ongoing network of shopping centre stores and shopping centre-based service workshops.

Subaru Australia managing director Colin Christie told GoAutoNews Premium that mobile sales, to be introduced next year, is an extension of Build and Buy, and again is inclusive for its dealer network.

“Mobile sales is an interesting one for us,” he said. “We plan to roll it out next year but we are currently playing around with some ideas with the customer firmly in mind.

“Like the test drives, we will get our dealers to conduct the sales but we are actually looking to build a tool for them to use to streamline the process dramatically.

“It will allow them to go out with a customer and either do it in the comfort of their own home through the Build and Buy program or in the dealership. The next step in that is the delivery which can be done at the customer’s home or work.”

Mr Christie said that the Subaru dealers were excited by the concept.

“We have dealers in Sydney involved in the mobile test drives and we are piloting a software solution that can support this,” he said.

“There are 10 dealers who have volunteered to be in the pilot program around Australia in this software solution.”

Also under examination is mobile test drives for regional centre customers. Mr Christie said that Subaru recognised that some potential buyers wanted specific cars to test, so it envisaged most will be provided through the dealer.

But he said that in some remote areas, Subaru Australia could do a program for its potential customers.

“There are a number of things to do before we get this right,” he said.

“The rural dealers are very good at this (providing test drives to their community) and they know how to deal with customers in remote areas.

“In the end, it’s a simple concept – doing what the customer wants.”

 

Subaru Australia has almost completed its options in retailing its cars. To date, it is involved in – and has in some cases pioneered – online purchasing, shopping centre stores for sales and servicing, and pop-up stores in temporary locations.

“We are now working on some event-style concepts,” Mr Christie said.

“We have built or tested a lot of concepts to pull this event program together.

“I expect more growth in shopping centres and we are looking at the omni-channel approach and what works where to fulfil the needs of the customer.

“That could be mobile and shopping centre in one area, perhaps a dealership and mobile in another.”

Mr Christie and Subaru Australia continue to stand behind a shopping centre program which he said has (more) growth and opportunities ahead.

“It’s a good way of engaging with the customer,” he said.

“It’s not just the fact that you’ve plonked yourself in the shopping centre but it’s about the type of people you have there.

“That’s one of the things that we have been testing – what’s the right structure, what’s the interaction between the staff and the customer, and how should it be different to a traditional dealership?

“These are some of the individual elements that we are playing around with.”

“These are some of the individual elements that we are playing around with.”

Mr Christie told GoAutoNews Premium that the industry is currently challenging in regards to profitability “so we need to work with our dealers and look at ways where we can provide the best customer experience and then reduce the cost base while doing that”.

“Dealers can see there are ways of changing their (business) model to reduce their cost base,” he said.

By Neil Dowling

Manheim
Macquarie