Stores aren’t for selling, they are for delighting your customers

Roadmap 2012 George Blankenship Tesla Motors

In the future brick-and-mortar stores will be fun and exciting places to visit, and most ordinary commerce will be done online, according to George Blankenship, VP of worldwide sales at Tesla Motors, who spoke Monday at the GigaOM RoadMap event in San Francisco. Blankenship, who also designed Apple’s retail stores, explained that products that don’t require customer education and engagement will move online, and the remaining stores will look more like the Apple or Tesla experience.

However, creating this experience isn’t easy. In a video played before his talk, Blankenship explained that at Apple they built four different versions of the store before they hit the right formula. And even getting to that point wasn’t easy because the world — namely in the form of landlords — wasn’t ready to buy into the Apple vision. Blankenship said he would ask malls for 50 feet of frontage space with no columns in the central courtyard of a mall and the landlords would scoff, “We’re not putting a 7,500 square-foot Radio Shack front and center in our mall.”

When it comes to Tesla the list of written and unwritten rules can define the company and change the way it does business. Blankenship referred to having to operate the Tesla store in Colorado differently on Sundays than it does every other day of the week because of state laws (I assume Colorado has rules about dealerships staying open for 7 days a week). But Tesla works within those rules to deliver an engaging experience for the customer — or future customer.

“It’s a store not designed to sell anything, it’s designed to make people want to come back,” said Blankenship.

Check out the rest of our RoadMap 2012 live coverage here, and a video recording of the session follows below:

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