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SEAT recently opened its first dual location retail presence at intu Lakeside. The 150m² space is just a short walk from the outdoor ‘Experience Centre’ which houses 16 SEAT models that can be explored and test driven. Through this combination, SEAT UK is able to offer an innovative and compelling new customer experience to intu Lakeside’s 26 million annual visitors.

The move to create a retail presence acknowledges the changes in automotive consumers’ path to purchase, which is now heavily influenced by self-guided online research. The retail space is able to invite serendipity, engage consumers through experience and offer a warm introduction to the brand.

Commenting on the latest innovation, Matt Benns, Head of Customer Quality & Network Development, SEAT UK, said, “Our new concept is a world first for us, and I’m delighted to be working with Green Room Design to deliver such an exciting venture, their comprehensive understanding of our brand and of how to optimise retail space will make it even easier for people to discover and fall in love with our award-winning range of cars.”

Mike Roberts, Chief Creative Officer at Green Room added, “We’re excited to be part of this new retail concept and outdoor ‘Experience Centre’ and have enjoyed working closely with the SEAT team to create this world first for the brand.”

The inspiration for the concept design builds upon SEAT’s dynamic new corporate identity, founded on the theme of ‘spirited spaces and warm welcomes’. Natural materials are used to give the space a relaxed feel, combined with Mediterranean-inspired colours. The Barcelona-based brand dials up the connection with its cultural heritage within the space, an olive tree takes pride of place and is encircled by Gaudi-inspired seating for weary shoppers, creating a relaxed space for the customer to discover SEAT.

In keeping with the browsing-oriented retail environment, the latest interactive and connected technologies are employed giving customers control over how they would like to engage with the purchase process. For example, visitors have the option of researching their perfect SEAT through eight 22-inch digital info “hubs”, where they can also configure models, explore financing options and even book immediate test drives.

A significant innovation with the automotive customer journey is the immediacy of a trial. Test drives can be arranged instantly and can take place just a few steps from the store, in the ‘Experience Centre’ outside the mall. This branded space gives gravitas to the exchange of the keys and the beginning of the driving experience.

Another major change to the car purchasing model is that this shop has stock to sell. For customers who aren’t keen on a long wait to take delivery of their new vehicle, SEAT Lakeside will have a number of models available for delivery seven days from the time of order (subject to finance approval). Sample models will be available to trial in the ‘Experience Centre’ the layout of which is designed to increase awareness of the SEAT range.

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