'Digi-room' sales for Audi City
HEART OF THE MATTER: Is that a real car or a hologram? Real, we guess, but Audi's digital showroom is 360-degree computer images.
Author: Les Stephenson
Audi is preparing automotive retail for the future and complementing its dealer network with a new format – Audi City – and the first location has opened close to Piccadilly Circus in central London.
Essentially, the building is a three-dimensional version of the digital brochures most automakers have available online for their products but with giant wall-screens to show and rotate vehicles and add or delete their gazillion options and colours - life-size.
Wonder how they will supply the “new car" smell? Computerised aerosols, perhaps? But whatever...
NO SHOWROOM CLUTTER
The London site is the first of what in the next three years to 2015 will become a network of 20 such outlets in major cities around the globe – an approach to selling cars that pretty much says ‘goodbye’ to the ordinary car salesman-woman-person.
The efficient use of space – no huge showroom or clutter of ‘pre-owned’ cars outside in the rain - allows the (well, any, when they catch up...) automaker to have a presence in the super-expensive heart of major cities.
The digi-rooms will also market alternative mobility vehicles and battery cars.
Digital showroom image gallery.
Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi board member for marketing and sales, explained: “Audi City combines the better of two worlds – digital product presentation and personal contact with the dealer.
“This new retail format brings us even closer to customers – geographically - but mainly in terms of the quality of our relationship. Audi City offers new freedom for tailor-made services and an even more individual contact with the customer.”
Moreover, technical details such as the drive train, body or diode lighting technology can be presented individually to make innovations understandable.
Audi says it is “responding to customers’ changing needs” with the digital stores. Schwarzenbauer again: “People are placing greater emphasis on a direct and personal bond of trust with their vehicle brand – especially in respect of the increasing variety of products and available information.
Each ‘city’ will have a ‘relationship manager as a “point of contact” for all a customer’s needs from purchase to after-sales – perhaps even to, many years down the line, scrapping. Who knows? Even more horrible than the previous descriptionS, this service will be known as “a single-point centre of competence”.
One showroom, one salesman, guys!
Audi says it will, however, offer employees training to “a more broad-based educational background – as information technology experts, for instance, qualified to explain the digital world of Audi City”.
Audi Citys will, the automaker hopes, evolve into something more than just digital showrooms after hours (digital showrooms have hours? – Ed) - a meeting place for brand fans, perhaps, or a forum for issues beyond the auto business, readings, round-table discussion and exhibitions of art, culture and design.