The German car manufacturer Audi has opened its third digital showroom on a major shopping street in Berlin. Audi is hoping to appeal to younger, more affluent buyers by moving into expensive, small city centre selling locations. Displaying the vehicles virtually means that a smaller space is required and shifts the point of sale from less central showrooms where the cars are displayed physically.
The Berlin Showroom
Situated on the Kurfuerstendamm boulevard, the Berlin showroom is a quarter of the size of an ordinary dealership. It displays four models and allows customers to look at the full 49 model line-up on large multimedia screens. Customers who have little time to spare don’t have to drive out of town and can include browsing for cars as part of their regular, city-centre shopping trips. This is the third worldwide digital showroom for Audi, after opening similar stores in London and Beijing. The virtual dealership is only 375 square metres in size and you can see virtual demonstrations from the comfort of a plush customer lounge.
Embraced by German Rivals
This strategy is also being adopted by Audi’s nearest German competitors BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The European car market has slumped over the last six years and car manufacturers are being forced to find new and innovative ways to attract customers. The slump has really allowed automobile retailers to unleash their creativity and overhaul the way they conduct sales. The portfolio of Audi is always growing in terms of new models and new technology, and this must be transmitted to customers in prime urban locations where space requirements are much smaller.
Early Success and Hopes for the Future
The Beijing showroom is already attracting more than 8,000 visitors every week and in the London store, 60 per cent of customers have never shopped with Audi before. Audi is hoping to overtake BMW as the world’s largest luxury carmaker by 2020 and has reduced the sales gap from 85,000 in 2012 to 80,000 in 2013. BMW’s success is partially due to its embracing of online orders and sales of the all-electric i3 city car and the i8 electric sports car. BMW also has stores in major urban locations, including Paris and New York. If Audi really wants to catch up with its closest rivals, it must rethink its online approach. Audi has pledged to open 16 more virtual stores in 2014.
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