Samsung: ‘Car dealerships and travel agents must embrace digital and VR to survive’

Samsung insists that out of town car dealerships and high street travel agents could face extinction if they fail to incorporate interactive digital screens and virtual reality technology in stores.

Speaking at today’s Future Shop event, Vincent Slevin, Samsung’s head of retail for Europe, believes high street retailers must abandon paper and tills in place of “more sensorial experiences” referencing the recently opened Hyundai dealership in the Bluewater shopping mall as an example of positive change.

He said that since opening three months ago, the Samsung-fuelled dealership, which only contains three cars and is fully digital with screens showcasing features and tablets replacing paper for transactions, has recorded more visits than the rest of Hyundai’s 100 plus dealerships combined.

“You wonder if traditional out of town car dealerships will survive as women hate it, it’s a long drawn out process and the consumer doesn’t feel at all immersed,” said Slevin.

“Shopping mall locations are the future as they are more sensorial experiences and allow for experiential marketing; the sales assistants aren’t middle aged men pouncing on you either.”

Samsung is also working with the likes of Thomas Cook so branches can preview holiday destinations on virtual reality headsets. Slevin warned that other travel agents must also embrace immersive technology to survive amid the rise of online shopping.

He said retailers must follow the mantra of Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank in giving consumers “80% experience and 20% product.”

Samsung on WiFi, smartphones and Apple

According to Slevin, only 11.9% of Koreans shopped with smartphones in 2011. That figure has since climbed to 62.9%. He said UK retailers must target improving their respective currents share with, to date, only 30% of Europeans having purchased goods via their smart phones.

He explained: “When it comes to embracing omnichannel trends it is a case of the wind blowing east to west.

“A lot has been said about beacon technology enhancing the retail experience but with only 20% of consumers having it switched on, WiFi is the biggest opportunity to make psychical stores monitorable like transactional websites are.”

Citing figures that suggested 100m users are currently using social media to shop, Slevin also took a shot at Apple, adding: “With the growth of Spotify who is to say it can’t become a retailer?

“It’s made Apple and iTunes redundant and that’s the reason you see Apple rushing into streaming.”