Tesla will take Model III orders in stores first, followed by online orders the second day. Why? People are speculating that Musk et al want people to line up at Tesla stores, or even camp out, as a PR spectacle. TeslaMondo sees other angles to this story.
- Personal contact. For many folks, this will be their first interaction with Tesla. It behooves them, and behooves Tesla, to have face-to-face contact. Orders made in person probably will stick better than impersonal click-to-order business.
- Logistics. Customers will learn exactly where their closest store is located, where to park, how the store operates, store hours, financing process, “trade-in” process, and with any luck, they will get to know Tesla personnel. All the better for a smooth relationship going forward.
- Peripheral sales. Tesla sells other stuff, you know. And you just know that many customers will take home souvenirs. This spreads brand awareness to family, friends. Major automakers also benefit from in-store traffic, even from recalls. Some people end up buying a new car, or opting for more elaborate service work, or picking up some all-weather mats on the way out.
- Spill-over traffic. Mall-based Tesla stores will win kudos from neighbors, for pulling in customers. Tesla, a good neighbor? Another boost to the brand.
- Possible paradox. A cattle-house atmosphere tends to hurt CSI (customer satisfaction index). TeslaMondo is writing this post on Presidents’ Day, when car dealers tend to sell a ton of cars — and suffer a knock in CSI. People don’t like to feel like livestock.
- Exposure to Model S/X. Too expensive for you? That’s okay. Just marvel at them in person anyway. Gets you pretty excited about Tesla, no?
- EV education. People will have questions about EV ownership. With any luck, they’ll leave the store feeling much more comfortable with the idea, having been set straight by a Tesla representative who, with any luck, reeks of credibility.
Brick and mortar stores do have a role in the marketplace, especially when your brand, retail model and proposed lifestyle are all novel. TeslaMondo thinks that anyone seriously pondering an in-store order should make a practice run beforehand, to get some preliminary questions answered. Anything to help the flow when those floodgates open.