The key to the car dealers of the future is Customer Experience Management: Smart apps provide additional information.
Showroom practice

Audi’s pocket-sized car salesman.

What will tomorrow’s car dealership look like and how can brick-and-mortar businesses survive in the internet age?
Author: Guido Reinking
Photo: Audi AG

What will tomorrow’s car dealership look like?

Can brick-and-mortar businesses survive in the Internet age? These questions hit home for Germany‘s 7,400 independent car dealers. They currently operate around 38,000 dealerships, but that number is dwindling. Now, a new answer has come from the Audi Center in Stuttgart: digitization. “By the time customers come to the showroom, they’ve already researched their desired model on the Internet,” said Aaron C. Arena, General Manager of Audi Center Stuttgart in Feuerbach. A few years ago, the average new-car buyer walked into dealerships five times before closing the deal. Today, it’s only 1.4 times. That raises the stakes for each visit.
Das Autohaus der Zukunft
The Audi Center in Stuttgart, the largest in Europe, has therefore invested in a T-Systems Customer Experience Management (CEM) module: “Showroom Proximity”. Arena explained, “We’re starting to digitize car dealerships.” The moment customers reach the dealership door, they are invited to download the CEM app onto their smartphone. The app steers them through the showroom. As they approach each car on the sales floor, an “iBeacon” device in the vehicle beams information onto their smartphone via Bluetooth. They can download vehicle data, product images and videos from the cloud onto their smartphone with a single click. Customers don’t just see technical details and upgrade options. “They also see special financing offers and sales promotions,” said Arena. Customers can save the information and compare it at their leisure once they get home. Dealers, for their part, know exactly what models visitors looked at, and they can provide specific information or suggest a test drive or one-on-one consultation to prospects who have provided their contact details. There’s another benefit, too. The system is available outside regular dealership hours, on Sundays and holidays, for example, and at showroom windows. T-Systems engineered the Customer Experience Management (CEM) solution with the Stuttgart Audi Center and developed the interface for software and vehicle data so it would specifically address auto dealers’ needs. It now plans to extend the module to include used-car sales and auto service.

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