BMW will require retailers to feature fewer cars in their showrooms as part of its new global Retail Next concept. Each model will have a display with premium lounge-like seating and unique lighting.

It debuts in the US in July and aims to make retailers feel more experiential and less transactional. “It’s about recognising that the buying process has changed,” said North America sales boss Shaun Bugbee. One retailer said showrooms will have the feel of an “eclectic hotel lobby”.

BMW National Dealer Forum chairman David Sloane said the “boutique-like” design will transform retailers into a “conversational space”. He added manufacturers are seeking more input from retailers into “what makes sense and what doesn’t”.

He did, however, express concerns about BMW ditching private sales advisor cubicles as part of the new concept. “We’re in the sales business. It’s a stretch to think that a salesperson will sit at a table with an iPad and sell a car.”

BMW last updated its retailer standards a decade ago; the Future Retail concept emphasised open space, glass and natural light.

To address cost concerns, Bugbee added that retailers who have updated their showrooms to BMW’s current standards are given a pass for 15 years. “It’s important that we recognise the existing investment, which will be honoured.”

A spokesperson for BMW Group UK told Auto Retail Agenda: “BMW Retail NEXT is in the development stage for the UK market.

“We will consult with our retail partners in the coming months and establish a rollout timeframe with them.”