Audi gives a glimpse of how retail will be

Audi’s latest move to open a chain of digital showrooms is a great example of using technology to augment the retail environment and create an experience that combines the best of digital with the best service a physical store can offer.

Rosie

The Audi City store allows visitors to select from millions of options such as models, features, accessories, colours to create a bespoke version on a digital system, and then projects a to scale images of the car on massive screens.

Each store will have a relationship management specialist on hand to offer advice for drivers in the research phase of buying a car and through sales and after sales.

The car marque hopes to open 20 of its Audi City digital showrooms in the next few years to complement its traditional showrooms.

It means that Audi can open a showroom in locations it wouldn’t usually be able to serve with a large traditional showroom so it can expand its reach to urban audiences.

The Piccadilly store provides a luxury and technologically advanced consumer experience – exactly what Audi’s Vorsprung durch Technik brand slogan, which translates into “Advancement through Technology”, promises.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing published a report this week that found that there is still a “damaging disconnect” between what a brand promises, and what it delivers in experience. Not Audi it would seem.

As well as being an interesting and innovative retail move, it’s a great affirmation of how smart the Audi brand marketing strategy is and how deep rooted it is across the business.

Vorsprung durch Technik doesn’t only apply to the technology in its cars, but to its every other aspect of its business.

Audi plans to use the stores as brand spaces where it can host cultural events that its customers might be interested in. In this respect the stores become less about selling a product and more about creating an experience of the brand.

It’s not a new idea but when his kind of thing is done well, it’s hugely effective.

Furniture retailer Dwell recently began hosting design-themed events in its stores and found that when lapsed customers were invited and attended, they went on to spend more with the brand, both in-store and online.

While these Audi City stores may not become the highest billing stores directly, they will add brand value in a way that neither a traditional showroom nor pure-online experience could.

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