Shopping should start in the carpark

In Paco Underhill’s latest book, The Call of the Mall, he takes us outside the store to study how a great shopper experience starts in the car park. It’s a great read, and his work with Westfield worldwide is transforming the look and feel of our shopping malls.

It’s also happening in car dealerships and, in particular, Peugeot’s Blue Box concept of retail theatre.

Peugeot is one of the world’s oldest car manufacturers, in production since the late 1800s. It’s significant in that it still has a substantial founding family shareholding and involvement, similar to Porsche over the border in Germany.

Peugeot’s design philosophy has always been leading edge, with a Gallic flare that is most unique and delivers the brand consistent design awards globally. This award winning design – the car’s skin, if you will – comes solely from within Peugeot. Peugeot combines this with cutting edge technology – its internal organs – developed either within Peugeot or sourced from benchmark suppliers, often their competitors, and the combination creates a blend of form and function that is quite special.

While this is all good from a brand perspective, when it comes to sales, how does a customer see this concept without walking into a dealership? They don’t. That’s why the sale needs to begin before the customer even gets through the door.

Peugeot saw this, and embarked on a re-brand project that is a design piece in itself.

In The Call of the Mall, Underhill talks about the call for better and more appetizing shopper environments that draw shoppers in. Peugeot understands this too, and has recently launched the ‘Blue Box’ concepts for dealerships around the world.

Let me explain. Have you ever seen a building dressed up for an event? Stores in the US and Europe, often around Christmas, are wrapped in giant bows, creating the effect of a giant gift box. Its shouts: “Come inside because we sell gifts at gift-giving time.”

This is in marked contrast to the “big wall with a mouse hole in the middle” that Underhill uses to describe the entrance to most shopping Malls. There is nothing that the mall entrance communicates to the shopper that has anything to do with the shopper environment inside the mall. You could just as easily be at the entrance to a warehouse than a shopping environment.

The Peugeot Blue Box encapsulates all the design expertise for which Peugeot cars are renowned – but importantly, from 200 metres away.

Peugeot is re-branding all of its dealerships worldwide to become large, eye-catching shopping environments wrapped in a field of striking Peugeot brand blue. Inside the dealership, high-quality interior aesthetics reflects and enhances the flowing lines central to the car designs.

But so what?

It draws in the customer from 200 metres away. And from the road, right up until the keys to a new car are in the customers’ hands, Peugeot has created a great shopper experience that accurately reflects the brand’s values and quality. The sale began on the road, before you even stopped the car.

I mentioned that Westfield is working with Underhill globally to reinvent its shopper experience from outside the centres too. With Underhill’s expertise, Westfield is working on some truly beautiful external architecture that will draw shoppers into new and more visually engaging malls.

The result is excellent retail theatre – which for the first time is being applied to the outside of the mall façade.

Westfield will do it first in the US, Middle East and New Zealand. The rest of the world will follow, Australia included.


In his role as CEO of CROSSMARK, Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores. In this insightful blog, Kevin covers retail news, ideas, companies and emerging opportunities in Australia, NZ, the US and Europe. His international career in sales and marketing has seen him responsible for business in over 40 countries, which has earned him grey hair and a wealth of expertise in international retailers and brands. CROSSMARK Asia Pacific is Australasia’s largest provider of retail marketing services, consulting to and servicing some of Australasia’s biggest retailers and manufacturers.

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