This new breed of urban dealerships is expected to record an extraordinary high number of visits and become a one-stop-shop aimed at providing a unique brand experience. The dealership network as we know it now will change dramatically within the next few years.
Although physically displaying only three to four cars, these future dealerships will have a virtually unlimited retail space, aided by digital tools such as interactive full-sized powerwalls to experience them in a 1:1 scale.
Audi, along with BMW and Mercedes-Benz is one of the few car companies that have made this concept a reality with the opening of digital showrooms.
The London Audi City
It is the smallest Audi dealership in the UK, featuring around four vehicles models. Visitors can digitally create a car from several hundred million potential configurations that allow customers to see it come to life. Customers can experience their future car in an entirely virtual environment.
The Audi City in Beijing and in Berlin
In this Audi Showroom customers can configure their cars using screens with gesture control, while six powerwalls display their newly configured car driving in a number of settings.
BMW Brand Store in Paris
Opened in 2012 on an upscale Paris shopping street, this store has five car configurators that can be viewed in 3D. BMW says it will be making announcements on similar showrooms later this year.
Mercedes-Benz Visionary Store in Milan
On September 2012, Mercedes-Benz opened its first Visionary Store in a shopping arcade in central Milan. Mercedes also makes use of gesture controls at its store, as well as giving customers the opportunity to experience the company’s car-specific apps.
A challenge posed by this change for car companies is the migration of the so-called “online/offline customer experience”. Nowadays the average number of showroom visits a customer makes before a new car purchase is on an average 1.4 – down from four visits. Customers walk into a dealership with their homework done. They will have browsed websites, read reviews, visited social networks and community forums – and at that point, the role of the dealer will no longer be that of an information source, but that of a product experience provider.
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