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Digital dealerships - the showrooms of the future?

Digital dealerships - the showrooms of the future? April 16, 2015 by Ian Wright

Interesting news  from India that TVS & Sons, the parent company of southern automobile major TVS Group, has the first taker for its digital dealership model, which may radically change the car showroom as we know it.

French carmaker Renault will soon allow TVS to pilot a new concept of showcasing cars on digital screens. The showroom will have no cars and customers will get a preliminary product introduction on Internet-enabled large TVs.

You can read the full story @ http://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/aftermarket/car-less-showrooms-through-digital-dealership-soon/46908437

In the UK we have something similar in Audi's City store, a new digital car showroom format that uses state-of-the-art technology to make clever use of precious city space.  Visitors can experience every possible combination of the Audi range in a way never seen before in an Audi Centre.

So what's our take on this?

Showrooms without cars are an interesting concept.  I guess for some manufacturers where having a proper showroom (with cars in) is economically unviable due to the investment required for facilities, a “cyber store”  similar to the one described or as Audi’s City store in London make perfect sense.  However, the whole car buying process is much more than just how the products look.  Buyers like to enjoy the whole experience; how doors close, how materials feel, how functions operate and most importantly how the car drives!  Whilst these cyber stores provide instantaneous configurations, building the vehicle to your chosen specification, colour, accessories and even engine noises in the case of Audi, I can’t help but think that a serious customer will want to have the tactile experience of touching and feeling the real thing.  We know that the majority of buyers have already done the bulk of their research by the time they leave their homes; much of this will have been online, so do they really want to be presented with another virtual experience?

An independent review of Audi City said this:

"Well it’s all good fun, it’s different, but then it’s also an extra layer of distance from product to customer. Sometimes a real hands-on experience can’t be beaten, but then if you can’t get out to any other Audi showroom it’s a fun alternative".

For me that sums it up, another layer of distance between the product and customer.  It may be “old school”, but I still believe “bums on seats sell cars” and virtual seats don’t count!



 

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