We have entered the age of the connected car, and driverless vehicles are just around the corner. But the automotive technology revolution is not just taking place within vehicles; showrooms are also transforming, to provide potential customers with digitally-connected interactive browsing and buying experiences.
The automotive industry is already benefitting from improved supply chain efficiencies thanks to IOT, and now the principle of intelligent digital engagement is gaining traction at the front of house.
There are many examples of how IOT technology is shaping today’s connected car showrooms. Last year, in a bid to get closer to urban shoppers, Bentley launched a car-free showroom in central Amsterdam, in which visual displays and projectors enticed customers to browse model and colour options from the brand’s 1.3 billion configurations via interactive touchscreens.
Audi City London also employs technology to make the most of an inner-city showroom. From touch-sensitive technology walls to interactive tables, customers are encouraged by staff to view the entire Audi range, and to virtually construct their own model in 1:1 scale. Afterwards, they are able to view their design in detail from every angle.
Audi was the first to bring virtual reality (VR) technology to its showrooms, offering a rich, interactive experience through simulated test drives. Similarly, Jaguar Land Rover offers a virtual tour of life-sized, as-yet unlaunched models, illustrating technical details through added animations.
BMW, an early adopter of in-store digital technology, offers dealers worldwide a multi-lingual solution which displays information and promotional material in showrooms, and can be controlled at a local level to meet the specific needs of a dealer’s demographic.
BMW is also helping Augmented reality (AR) find a place in the physical showroom space, through a new concept which draws on cameras and sensors to let smartphone users inspect a virtual car in an empty showroom space – and beyond. BMW hopes that the software will invigorate the dealership experience, and foresees customers being able to configure a car online before they visit the showroom to find out more.
Digital technology is enabling automotive brands to extend their reach beyond the dealership. In partnership with Cisco, Volkswagen has developed a remote interactive service console which presents the brand’s portfolio, and can be used to configure car options or search a dealer’s used car portfolio. In addition, it allows shoppers to engage with dealerships via video telephony, and so can be deployed in public areas such as supermarkets, as well as inside the dealerships themselves.
Technologies such as interactive kiosks and tablets offer dynamic ways to find information in automotive showrooms. These devices reflect (and communicate with) a brand’s online channel to give customers access to a wealth of information; including model range, specifications and capabilities. Meanwhile, specialised software offers the opportunity to simulate customisation options and colour choices.
Smart showrooms are a powerful way to increase sales. Today’s shoppers often choose a multichannel approach, engaging with an automotive brand via its website or social media before they even enter the showroom. So, while physical stores are still relevant, it’s crucial that automotive retailers find innovative ways to address this desire for digital interaction.
And while connected devices are giving customers a taste of the online buying journey in-store, they are also empowering staff to deliver greater levels of service.
Mobile tablets allow staff to quickly access in-depth brand and model information from anywhere in the showroom, enabling them to guide the customer’s journey more effectively. By drawing on personal data that a shopper has offered online or in-showroom, staff can also deliver more personalised service, based on any preferences the customer has expressed, which models they owned previously, and even any life changes that may be prompting the purchase.
And by gathering and analysing customer data, automotive brands are able to build an accurate profile of their customer base, and shape their marketing strategies more appropriately.
The flexible route planner
A new car is a significant purchase, and customers appreciate a buying process that reflects how they want to shop. By bringing technology, staff and online strengths together, IOT principles are making omnichannel automotive retail a reality, enabling vehicle brands to fulfil the evolving demands of today’s car buyer.
Find out how the Grassfish platform uses IOT to deliver intelligent connected stores which excite the customer, empower staff, and provide direction for successful marketing campaigns.