Behind the scenes: First DS Automobiles Urban Store in London

  • World's first DS Urban Store opens in London
  • Focuses on customer experience over sales
  • Features 3D virtual reality tour of DS models

Bored of the traditional car buying experience? DS Automobiles is the latest manufacturer to open a boutique-inspired automotive outlet in the heart of one of the UK’s busiest shopping centres.

Designed to offer potential customers a unique and luxurious experience, the 140 square-metre DS Urban Store at Westfield London is the first of its kind. Shoppers are free to browse the high-end merchandise on display, or should they wish, design their own DS with the Virtual Vision experience – allowing a full 3D tour of their chosen model.

Each store is split into five separate areas

Depending on what shoppers are looking to get out of their visit, the store features five different areas:

  • Exhibition – a flagship DS model on display.
  • Boutique – DS accessories and model cars available to browse.
  • Lounge – shoppers can configure their DS with the help of a DS Advisor.
  • Bijouterie – described as the most private area of the DS Urban Store, it's reserved for customers who are signing on the dotted line for their new car.

It’s the final area, though, which is likely to draw the majority of shoppers in. The state-of-the-art Virtual Vision experience uses a virtual reality headset to take users into the heart of Paris where they can view and personalise their chosen DS model.

Should customers like what they see, test drives of real cars can be conducted from Westfield’s multi-storey car park where the brand keeps a number of stock vehicles.

No pressure on customers to buy

While it’s entirely possible to walk into the Urban Store and buy a car, DS is keen to emphasise that – unlike a conventional dealership – visitors to the new Urban Store will be under no pressure to buy any of the products.

Indeed, the in-store DS advisors are not on commission like conventional salespeople, even though many have come from traditional dealership environments.

Vice President of Sales and Marketing at DS Automobiles, Arnaud Ribault, points out that the store goes beyond selling cars and is all about creating an avantgarde luxury experience for the customer.

He commented that “when you want to personalise you want to have time to talk about the car and not be rushed"; "we want them (customers) to be in a nice place where they can relax.”

Personalisation is a big part of DS Automobiles’ appeal and the brand hopes that by bringing a high-end outlet to a busy shopping centre, more customers will be able to experience the high level of personalisation available.

Ribault states that there are currently over three million possible combinations of DS available to buy and that, to give customers an idea of how their creation might look, model cars are on display in the Boutique section of the store.

DS building its own identity

Along with DS Stores, DS Salons and DS World locations globally, the Urban Store is part of the wider plan to differentiate the brand from its Citroen parentage. DS is keen to see how the new concept will work and is looking to expand the DS Urban Stores to other prominent locations across Europe.