“Customers frequently tell us they enjoy the experience, both in terms of the technology and the interaction with our team. We are now looking to roll out modular versions of some of the game-changing display technologies employed as part of the Audi City format in collaboration with our network partners.”
Other major manufacturers are following suit, signalling that digital could be at the heart of future automotive retail property.
Mercedes may open 'largely digital' city centre boutique stores
At the Geneva Motor Show in March this year, Mercedes suggested it may open city centre boutique stores where the cars themselves do not feature at all. A Mercedes’ insider told AM: “They would be largely digital and would be a first point of contact for customers where they would register their interest and find out more about the range. The idea is that they would then go on to view the cars themselves, either at a traditional showroom further out of the main shopping area, or via a ‘roving sales manager’ – also a new idea – who would take the car to the customer. It would take Mercedes into the heart of the busiest shopping centres such as London’s Oxford Street – areas where traditional large showroom forecourts are not usually suitable, but where you can target the highest proportion of potential customers.”
However, this doesn’t mean the digital suites will overtake traditional showrooms: “It is vitally important that we keep the traditional showroom,” the insider added. “Customers will always want something tangible. Boutique stores would by no means replace traditional showrooms; they would work hand in hand. We need to keep investing in our customer-facing outlets – whether that is showrooms or our websites, but they all need to work together so it is convenient and straightforward for people to specify their car and get the information they need. This includes greater and greater use of tablets in showrooms, allowing people to access the latest independent reviews and product updates.
“There is also still a place for hard copy brochures and price lists, however. Digital hasn’t taken over completely.”