Store Review

Volkswagen Birmingham

Brum, brum

A growing number of automotive brands are hoping that buying a new car in major shopping centres will become as commonplace as shoppers grabbing the latest fashion item or must-have mobile device.

The likes of Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz have all launched pop-up or permanent retail stores within shopping centres in the past year or so. Last Friday, Volkswagen added its name to the list with the opening of its new pop-up store in Birmingham’s Bullring.

The pop-up itself cleverly communicates functional and emotional benefits within the one concept – sure to appeal to the motor enthusiast and lifestyle buyer alike. Divided into two distinct zones, the pop-up delivers a familiar ‘technical’ showroom feel on the one hand, with three vehicles on display, as well as a more homely, living room type feel on the other – complete with wooden display shelving, in-store planting and soft lighting lamps.

Shoppers visiting the store on opening day were well-served, with ten Volkswagen team members on hand –immaculately turned out in informal but impactful colt blue and grey t-shirts. The clean, simple colour palette is further reinforced across the retail scheme through a mix of grey, beige and matt black.

As is now the custom, the ‘store’ is also packed with digital content and the latest shopper technology. From large format screens showing branded content, to digital totem displays providing by-car product information. Shoppers are also able to configure new cars and check out Das Auto approved used stock, while iPad-wielding team members are on hand to offer assistance.

Small changes? Team members could have been dispersed a little more within the retail space, or overall numbers possibly reduced. Often gravitating together to stand in a collective group, their presence at times seemed a little at odds with the otherwise welcoming, friendly feel. It’s an area that the likes of Apple really excels at – creating a sense that brand ambassadors are always within easy reach, rather than making shoppers feel intimated.

Far smaller than the imposing Volkswagen West London ‘landmark retail’ site, this pop-up is nonetheless eye-catching and engaging. And there is no doubt that the Volkswagen fascia made a strong statement on the Bullring’s concourse alongside the traditional retail names – something that, no doubt, we will see more of as automotive brands begin to realise the pulling power of their marques as a genuine retail draw.

By Helen Bonser

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