(From Contagious Magazine)
“Audi has launched its first digital showroom, allowing customers to virtually view the brand’s entire model line-up in a compact urban space.
The first Audi City showroom opened near Piccadilly Circus in London on 16 July and the brand plans to open more than 20 other locations across the world by 2015. Visitors can use multi-touch screen tables (created by Razorfish International) to digitally select the Audi of their choice from more than 3.5 million possible configurations and then see a life-size digital version of that car on a huge HD screen.
Potential customers can view different colours, equipment options and functions, and focus on specific technical details, such as LED light technology. They can watch the car ‘drive’ through virtual landscapes and experience all the sounds of a particular car.
The showroom brings the Audi brand into the heart of a city, making it more accessible to potential customers, rather than forcing them to travel to industrial areas where car dealerships are traditionally located. Tom Acland, CTO, Razorfish, Germany, adds: ‘Companies are in a position to offer increasing varieties to a broader and more varied target audience but that then puts pressure on the stores to become bigger and therefore more expensive and more difficult to navigate for consumers.’ Audi’s digital dealership allows Audi to show off its complex inventory in a small and urban location.
Audi City is solving a problem that many retailers are facing (not just in the automotive sector), which is that large footprint stores are expensive and confusing for customers. As Audi is reaching out to a broader range of customers and creating a large range of products to appeal to them, the manufacturer has amassed a complex and large inventory. Creating a digital retail environment allows the brand to show its entire range to customers in an small urban environment. Moreover Audi can deliver a sleek, modern, convenient experience that is in line with its brand rather than overwhelming customers who have trekked to a showroom in the middle of nowhere.
Unlike an ecommerce experience, Audi City also adds theatre to the retail environment, while a real Audi salesperson is on hand to offer guidance. The novelty of the technology is part of the draw, but the benefits of having a personalised retail experience is what will keep customers excited.
While this type of digital retail experience is obviously useful for automotive brands, which have many large products to display, we can see the principles behind Audi City being adopted in a range of other retail sectors, such as banking, telcommunications, or fashion, where consumers can use additional advice from sales consultants.”