Bridgetone Select - A Quantum Leap For Australian Tyre Retailing

Bridgestone Select - A Quantum Leap For Australian Tyre Retailing

Bridgestone Australia Ltd. - market leader in Australian tyre retailing - has launched an all-new retail format in Adelaide.

Bridgestone Select in Gouger Street, Adelaide showcases Bridgestone's new retail direction for its franchise stores across Australia.

Bselect - Adelaide's Gouger St.  Showroom (click to enlarge)
Bselect - Adelaide's Gouger St. Showroom (click to enlarge)

Among the many innovations being introduced, this Bridgestone Select store immediately distinguishes itself from the pack by becoming the first major retail outlet to trial a tyre-free showroom. 

Mac Ohashi, Chairman and CEO of Bridgestone Australia Ltd., said Bridgestone Select was the result of exhaustive consumer research.

"This isn't just a new look and format. Bridgestone Select represents an entirely fresh category philosophy and one that we believe will resonate with Australian consumers like no other tyre retailer has before," Mr Ohashi said.

"Everything we have done with Bridgestone Select is about the consumer. This has resulted in a completely new approach to selling tyres."

It is expected that Bridgestone Select will be rolled-out across the country mid 2007.

"We currently have over 260 Bridgestone Tyre Centres around Australia and we would expect many to be converted to Bridgestone Select by the end of next year," Mr Ohashi said.

"This represents the future of our retail operations and we believe it marks a quantum leap in Australian tyre retailing."

The Bridgestone Select Concept The Bridgestone Select concept is based on a philosophy of  'trust through transparency' where the customer is intimately involved in the purchase process from start to finish.

In formulating the approach, Bridgestone commissioned qualitative research which uncovered a number of key insights including:

  • traditional outlets were often viewed as 'masculine' and 'intimidating' and potentially cold, smelly and uninviting;
  • the traditional counter was perceived as a 'barrier';
  • consumers wanted a store environment that was 'pleasant and non-threatening';
  • consumers wanted access to more user-friendly information;
  • consumers were more interested in a buying experience that helped them choose a tyre that was right for them, not just their car.

"The research we conducted found that many consumers felt disempowered by the sales process; that they were on one side of the counter while the retailer quoted them a part number and a price off a computer," said Scott Wood, Bridgestone's National Franchise Manager.

"Everything about Bridgestone Select is about involving the customer in the decision making process and making them feel comfortable with the retail experience."

The Bridgestone Select experience starts with the new-look exterior with striking orange signage.

Entering the showroom, customers will first notice the lack of tyres crowding the retail space. In what is believed to be a first for a major Australian tyre retailer, the showroom is tyre-less. New flooring, fixtures and a customer area boasting a comfortable lounge, internet access, plasma TV and fresh coffee complements the welcoming feel.

Touch-screens provide product information, enabling customers to do their own research in-store. Large banners and matching brochures guide consumers through their options based on tyre use and lifestyle rather than simply presenting options by size alone for example Family, Performance, Luxury, Touring, Off-Road or Urban SUV.

"We've introduced this style of interactive point-of-sale because consumers have indicated they want to be involved in choosing the right tyres for their style of driving," said Stanley Toh, National Marketing Manager, Tyre Division.

"For example, if two drivers have the same model vehicle, one might describe their car as a performance vehicle and want tyres to match while the other might see theirs as a family car and will want tyres with different characteristics. Our sampling has shown consumers feel much more empowered by this interactive system."

Completing the experience is the innovative approach to the sales process. Rather than be on opposite sides of a traditional counter, the Bridgestone Select experience places both retailer and customer at one of the free-standing computer 'pods' with information on-screen.

All information is shared at the pod - including tyre availability and price.  "This system goes to the heart of our 'trust through transparency' philosophy," Scott Wood said.

"At Bridgestone Select, the customer will feel relaxed, informed and involved in the whole process. That�s why we are confident consumers will embrace this new approach."

Service That Moves You A key pillar of the Bridgestone Select promise is 'Service That Moves You'; Bridgestone Australia Ltd.'s commitment to continually improving customer service.

"The Bridgestone Select experience is really a completely new way of selling tyres. Although we already have a very high standard of customer service, this new format represents something completely new for our retail network," Scott said.

"Our staff are not talking to the customer from behind a counter or pointing to a tyre stack. Instead, they are really interacting with the customer at a touch-screen or a computer pod, involving the customer at every step. To achieve this, the Bridgestone Select program involved a comprehensive staff training element.

"We believe the service a customer gets at a Bridgestone Select will be vastly superior to anything offered within the industry."

New technology, latest products All Bridgestone Select outlets will be equipped with the very latest tyre technology including Bridgestone's own Ultra Ride system.

The stores will be Bridgestone Accredited to service Runflat Tyres (RFTs) and services such as nitrogen inflation and battery tests will also be introduced as an option for consumers.

The future of franchising The Bridgestone Select concept was first presented to Bridgestone franchisees at their national conference earlier this year.

According to Scott Wood, the reaction from franchisees was "simply overwhelming".

"Our franchisees were incredibly excited by the new format because they could see the work that had gone into ensuring they stay ahead in the industry. They know they are competing in a mature market and need to really connect with the changing needs of the consumer," he said.

"We are continuing to refine the model, which is why we have launched this trial store in Adelaide and will be launching more trial stores in key locations, prior to the national roll-out of the final concept.

Mac Ohashi said "We are very confident that this new concept designed by consumers for consumers is the next generation in tyre retailing in Australia."

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