Ford Launches New Smart Lab Retail Concept. A Shift to Holistic Customer Experience

Ford Motor Company recently opened in North America its first Ford Smart Lab, a pilot retail concept that allows customers to experience Ford products and services in a casual, open setting.

Quebec City,– Ford Motor Company recently opened in North America its first Ford Smart Lab, a pilot retail concept that allows customers to experience Ford products and services in a casual, open setting.

The new Smart Lab at Les Galeries de la Capitale in Quebec City, Quebec, in collaboration with Desjardins Auto Collection, is designed to address changing consumer shopping and buying preferences. The shopping method is shifting from the product alone to a more holistic customer experience. That’s why Ford is working with dealers around the world to test new global retail formats, such as Ford Smart Lab.

“As customers’ shopping and buying preferences evolve, so too must the way companies engage with them,” said Robert De Filippo, the company’s global director of in-store retail experience. “Over the last 18 to 24 months we have been testing and learning from a number of different retail concepts, working to improve our customer experience. In looking through the lens of the customer, we learned, for example, that while they prefer to browse online first, they also want a physical experience where they can see, touch and drive the vehicle – and that’s what Ford Smart Lab can provide.”

Different than the traditional on-premises selling model, the purpose of Ford Smart Lab is to generate excitement around the brand and inform customers. The lab, modeled after a successful retail mall concept developed by Ford dealers in Turin, Italy, is staffed with a team of approachable enthusiastic advisors to interact with visitors.

The labs are small retail points located in a high-traffic area surrounded by shops, food and entertainment, where customers can experience Ford products in an engaging and relaxing environment. People will be able to test drive the vehicles on nearby streets, and those who are prepared to purchase a vehicle can do so through the dealership running the Smart Lab.

“When Ford of Canada approached me about opening a Smart Lab, I was excited,” said Jean-Luc Desjardins, owner of four Ford dealerships in Quebec. “I’m always looking for ways to reach new customers and deliver a unique experience, and the Smart Lab concept gives me that opportunity.”

This is the second Ford Smart Lab to open this year; the first opened in Brussels in May. Ford plans to roll out four additional designs by the end of 2019.