Akeno were invited to join the Project Team responsible for launching a SEAT Store in Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex, in 2016. We joined an established team to provide operational business analysis skills in order to define and document processes for the operation of the new Store.
In 2016, the concept of omni-channel car sales was a new, highly innovative, and largely untested idea. The approach had to be different. This was not about operating as a retailer in a new location; it was all about the new and improved customer experience. The operating processes had to reflect that. Then there were the logistical challenges to overcome, such as delivering cars to a busy shopping centre (if you’ve ever tried visiting busy shopping centres like Lakeside at Christmas time, you’ll know what a challenge it is in a car, never mind in an 11 car transporter!)
The Lakeside Store opened on time and to budget in August 2016, and was such a great success, plans started for Store number 2 in Westfield White City, London.
This time, Akeno were asked to add Digital Concepts Project Management to their list of responsibilities. As well as driving the operational processes as we did before (with a new set of logistical challenges like having to use an industrial crane to lift the vehicles onto the first floor in the shopping centre!), we also project managed the entire build and launch of the Store itself. The second Store opened on time and to budget in August 2017, and both Stores continue to go from strength to strength.
The operational business processes for both Stores were developed following a number of workshops and one to one sessions with the SEAT UK Team, their Suppliers and Partners. The Stores had a whole new set of needs and challenges that everyone had to overcome; from delivering cars into a busy Shopping Centre, to evaluating the best way to ensure an unsurpassed customer experience. Ideas had to be challenged, and new concepts had to be explored. This challenge and exploration of new ideas was a key part of Aeno’s role.
All processes were documented thoroughly to provide a robust blueprint for future Stores. An operational manual was also produced for the Store team and the Retailer Group operating the Store on SEAT’s behalf. This document was written in an intuitive and informative way to support new staff in the future, and to provide knowledge to existing staff, on all parts of the Store operation.
The Westfield Store project was able to take the blue print processes as a base, with adjustments being made for the new challenges that were faced with a Central London Store, including the transporter not fitting into the delivery yard!
The Retail Digital Concepts Project Management aspect of the role also bought a new set of responsibilities:
- Working with the onsite building contractors to manage the physical construction of the Store and its internal fittings (hard hats at the ready!).
- Approving design changes in conjunction with the Chief Designer.
- Liaising with marketing and communication teams to manage key messages to the media.
- Recruiting staff, designing the training programme and ensuring readiness for Store opening.
- Liaising with the factory in Spain to communicate progress and ensure an accurate portrayal of their vision.
- Managing UAT (User Acceptance Testing) of customer-facing systems to ensure an intuitive and accurate user experience.
- Ordering merchandise and designing merchandise display stands.
Both Stores were opened on time and to budget (Lakeside in August 2016 and Westfield White City in August 2017), and continue to go from strength to strength in terms of sales and customer satisfaction.
The Stores have been such as success that other Brands have followed SEAT into the shopping centres, including Mitsubishi who opened in Lakeside in summer 2018.
Learn more about the SEAT Stores: