Maruti Suzuki unveils new identity for its retail channel

New showroom format to see contemporary design, and use of technology. The company plans to upgrade all its 2,050 regular showrooms across the country to the new format and plans to complete 80 such facilities by end FY2018.

By Mayank Dhingra calendar 30 Aug 2017 Views icon13563 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Maruti Suzuki unveils new identity for its retail channel

Christened Maruti Suzuki Arena, the new retail identity of the country's leading carmaker is aimed to delight and engage with its new-age customers, who, according to Maruti Suzuki, are more tech-savvy, digitally connected and have a modern outlook.  

The company is going to upgrade all its 2,050 regular showrooms across the country to the new format and plans to complete 80 such facilities by end FY2018. The future plan hints at revamping all the existing showrooms within the next 3-5 years and also expanding the network strength to a total of 3,000 showrooms in the next five years. 

The makeover exercise aims to completely transform the existing layout and design of a regular Maruti Suzuki showroom, and bring in modern touches to the interior design, offering a vibrant ambience and an overall welcoming experience to the customer. 

According to Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL), "Our vision of achieving 2 million sales annually by 2020 is not just a sales target, but how we achieve that, is equally important to Maruti Suzuki. It includes all our partners in the dealership network to play a strong role in it, and so, we have now put our focus on enhancing these outlets for a better experience for our customers." 

The company has also noticed its new-age customers to be more technology oriented and doing their thorough homework online, before landing at a physical outlet.  

Hence, apart from just offering a refined showroom experience, Maruti is also going to deploy a completely new set of digital tools, which would ensure that there is a seamless transition from online to offline, right from the time a customer starts looking up at a product on its website, until finally showing up at an 'Arena' and interacting with his or her 'Relationship Manager' for taking the car buying process forward. 

The host of mobile applications, majorly developed by Maruti's in-house IT team, and the new detailed product web-pages are going to play an important role here. Moreover, technology has also been integrated at the showroom level, with the presence of car configurators and iPads, to allow for customers to run through a host of personalization accessory options, also staying connected with product information at all times. The showrooms would also boast a Cafe area offering F&B option too while making one of the most crucial decisions of their lives. 

According to RS Kalsi, senior executive director, (Marketing and Sales), MSIL, "The pace at which the customer profile has changed coming into the showrooms has been remarkable in the last five years. These connected customers need to be engaged in a different and meaningful way and hence, we must speak in their language." 

"What is needed is to enhance their buying and ownership experience and also enhance all the customer touch points, right from online, to sales, through to social communications", he added. 

Speaking to Autocar Professional, Kalsi said, "The work for this project had begun two years ago in the back-end. The idea was conceptualised keeping in mind the growing expectations of the young customer. While we are targeting the new age buyer, if we talk about the older generation as well, they too are becoming young in their thought process, given the critical mass they interact with. Hence, I believe that most of the nation today is becoming technology and mobile friendly and we are responding to this changing phenomenon, and aim to offer a completely delightful experience to whole of our customer base." 

Re-training the Manpower

To offer an enhanced buying experience, the company is on its way to re-train its entire sales force from the total strength of 32,000 associates employed at its 2,050 dealer outlets across the country. "Training will certainly play a big role in this new experience. Every sales person will have to undertake a quiz, post which they will undergo his or her training and it is only once they clear the exam, they would be handled with the responsibility of being a Relationship Manager. The training process has already begun." 

While it also began operations of its separate retail channel for premium offerings, Nexa, in 2015, selling over 3,00,000 units since then, according to Kalsi, " even though the Arena experience is going in a similar direction, the customer profile ending up at both these retail channels is starkly different. Where a Nexa customer is discerning, sophisticated, clear about his decisions and an experienced one; the one who would land up at an Arena is more trendy, vibrant, a first time buyer and is very demanding as well. So, both Arena and Nexa will continue catering to a different set of buyer." 

Investment for the re-build

The revamping expense for a dealer to uplift just the showroom space (spanning between 2,500 to 4,500 square feet) of a regular Maruti Suzuki dealership is going to fall between Rs 1-1.5 crore, depending on the city and display space.  Also, bringing a similar makeover to the service area in a 3S facility could be next on the cards for the company.  

Maruti Suzuki has also identified vendors to supply the front office and display area infrastructure, so as to ensure a standardised interior experience across all showrooms. 

While dealers are going to fund the makeover entirely from their own end, Maruti's contribution in terms of expense has gone into the development of the technology platform, design and finalisation of the layout elements.  

Maruti's 4 pillars of retail

To focus on different sets of customers walking into showrooms and taking care of their specific requirements, Maruti has now divided its retail spaces into four categories, separating out each one of them, so as to cater to a specific buyer. These include - Maruti Suzuki Arena, Nexa, True Value and Maruti Commercial. 

According to Kalsi, "Firstly, our intent is the distinct focus on the customer base, where the requirements and expectations of every customer are different, and to still offer them a higher level of delight factor. Secondly, the volume scale is also going up, and hence, in order to manage the things and have a focused approach in every segment." 

With the Maruti Suzuki Arena, MSIL, which claims to sell nine cars every minutes, is moving in the direction of modernising the retailing of its mass market cars. With the new experience aimed for buyers, the company would hope to expand its base of loyal customers. 

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