The Modern Showroom — Thoughts from NADA
DIGITAL SIGNAGE – MORE THAN JUST TVs
Digital signage adoption is going to explode within the next duo of years as more dealership groups begin to implement interactive digital screens into the customer practice inwards the showroom, says Jerry Daniels, a former executive with the Asbury Automotive Group.
At this year’s NADA, Ford Motor Co. and others included several photos of its vision the showroom of the future. Large movie walls, kiosks and large plane screen TVs are central to Ford’s design.
L arge scale adoption has taken awhile. In 2007, Daniels founded the Automotive Broadcasting Network, which provides digital signage solutions to dealerships. The company now has several hundred clients. But that should increase significantly over the next duo of years, he believes.
The company is in discussions with numerous manufacturers regarding various solutions. It is partnering with General Motors to provide the digital signage, including digital menu boards, directional signage and movie walls, as part of the OEM’s Revolutionize the Service Lane Practice initiative.
ABN also is working with various dealership architects to include movie walls, signage, and large screen monitors for TV and advertising, as part of initial dealership designs.
The benefits to dealerships include creating a modern look and feel in the dealership and can provide an environment that emerges more professional and trust worthy. Having a modern showroom with advanced digital solutions can go a long way eliminating the typical stereotype customers have of dealerships.
ABN also provides movie walls ranging from three to nine screens that display content such as marketing messages for the brand and the dealership.
Audi already has incorporated movie walls that extend from the floor to the ceiling at dealerships in Europe. Audi customers are able to configure vehicles using a mobile device or kiosk and view the configuration on the movie wall. The movie walls are three-dimensional. These are coming to Audi dealerships in the U.S. over the next several months.
ABN played around with 3-D movie walls a few years ago, but the technology just wasn’t up to speed yet, says Daniels.
At the most basic level, large vapid screen monitors today are showcasing content developed specifically for the dealership providing information about the dealership. Applications are available today that permit dealerships to switch content instantaneously based on whatever deals are in play or which inventory they need to stir the fastest.
ABN has twelve separate content channels specific to the dealership and its brand along with department-specific content.
Imagine having a customer in your service waiting area getting an oil switch for $34.95 while a commercial for Jiffy Grease comes on advertising a $Nineteen.95 oil switch – that’s what’s happening in many dealerships today. Or ads appearing displaying a rivaling dealership’s or automaker’s specials – it’s going to happen. The average wait time in the service department is one hour and thirty two minutes today.
And the department-specific content can help drive sales. Superstition Springs Honda sells thirty three cars a month due to content its customers sees while waiting in the service department. A dealership in Jacksonville, FL recently generated one hundred twenty five test drives which resulted in sixteen vehicles sold – because of the movie content played in the dealership.
In addition to dealer and brand specific content, ABN has family-friendly prime time content provided by seventy two different content playmates. A customer can sit in a dealership for a week and not see the same content replayed.
Presently, ABN’s appointment board solution is integrated with xTime’s online appointment technology. Integration with CDK and DealerSocket should be available later this year.
While stores will be busy modernizing their showrooms, other stores will be leapfrogging them by incorporating virtual reality (VR) technology into – and outside — the showroom.
Viable applications still are a duo of years away – at the least. But automotive retail sector will be at the front leading the charge with the gaming industry in developing real-world solutions. Already, several companies showcased off VR applications in their booths at the NADA last week. Evox Pictures, Izmo Cars, CreditMiner were just some of the companies touting the fresh technology.
At a latest dealer meeting in California, Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen introduced his retail plan to elevate the brand’s premium positioning with potential customers. The plan calls for approximately four hundred of Cadillac’s smaller stores to adopt showrooms that rely on virtual reality (VR) technology. The showrooms would have limited — if any — inventory. Instead, they would rely on touch screen kiosks and virtual test drive technology, including headsets and VR systems that sales people could take to a customer’s office or home.
Obviously, dealers will need to buy into the strategy, and there are several questions that need to be answered regarding implementation and what the long term effect will be on retail networks. But what de Nysschen is proposing is part of what’s becoming a trend in the automotive retail space – adoption of virtual technology into the retail network.
Audi has been piloting VR technology in some of their stores, but that has been in international markets such as Beijing and London. But applications are expected to be in U.S. dealerships this year.
At the Consumer Electronics Display in January, Audi introduced a virtual showroom that permits customers to explore Audi’s accomplish portfolio of vehicles using VR goggles. Customers will be able to configure Audi vehicles while virtually driving them in numerous environments. The solution is based on technology coming from Nvidia Quadro, Oculus and HTC.
In late 2014, Lexus introduced a VR driving simulator at several auto shows. Toyota, likewise, has had VR-headsets at various auto shows over the last year. Meantime, Mercedes Benz and BMW have also experimented with virtual technology in their European networks.
At the latest Mobile World Congress, Accenture Digital exposed a VR initiative it is developing with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The very first of the applications should be available this summer. Customers will be able to put on a headset in the showroom and engage in a three hundred sixty degree walk around of the vehicle, including being able to view the interior.
Adoption in dealerships could explode in the next three to five years as VR applications become integrated into society. The technology has reached a point now where prices will embark to come down in the near future.
For manufacturers, having virtual showrooms could expand their reach without having to extend their retail networks. For dealerships, having some form of virtual technology in the showroom should enhance the customer practice.
Incorporating a modern look into the dealership while adding “wow” applications such as VR technology also should go a long way helping dealers create a more trustworthy picture.
Another intriguing application we spotted at NADA that will be common in a few years came from Reynolds and Reynolds and its e-work flow initiative it finished within the last few months.
The company engineered its integrated document storage solution to be paperless from the beginning. The technology is truly paperless and liquidates the need for any printing of documents – unlike solutions from competitors that require the documents to be printed and then scanned into the system (one vendor’s application reportedly ships the documents to Mexico to be scanned into its “paperless” system).
Customers sign the documents on Reynolds’ DocuPad product (After years of talking about e-contracting, banks and lenders are now investing powerfully in solutions that should be commonplace in the next eighteen months). The papers then are saved to a flash drive which is then provided to the customer. The papers also are electronically sent to the lender and adequate storage files – no physical shipping or storage of documents.