The COVID-19 pandemic has driven companies to increasingly leverage digital solutions to restore customer confidence that has nose-dived over the last quarter or so
A plethora of companies have launched online retail channels that not only aim to serve customer needs, but also collect huge amounts of data that could be analysed for a cost-optimised future. Auto Tech Review caught up with Vijay Wadhawan, Business Head, System Solutions Division, Panasonic India, to delve deeper into its solutions that bank on new age technologies.
According to 6W Research, the Indian Digital Signage market is projected to reach around 1.3 mn units by 2022 and priority investments are expected to be made in high-growth digital platforms as well as in-car connectivity services that can even push the market to 2.5 mn by 2025. Panasonic traditionally has been a hardware-based company manufacturing a slew of electronic goods and ventured into the solutions business in 2017. The company’s objective was to emerge as a one-stop solution provider for hardware products as well as software services along with connectivity for individual consumers or enterprises.
Panasonic’s Digital SignEdge solutions include a car configurator developed for MG Motor India. The system enables a customer to configure a car with different specifications such as exterior colour, interior upholstery as well as accessories as per his/her unique requirements at the showroom. The car configurator can offer immediate customer satisfaction as it clearly conveys how the car is going to look like against the money the customer is paying, thereby increasing the chances of the user being converting into a potential customer, explained Wadhawan.
The system also tracks a huge amount of data that is collected during every customer visit, regardless of whether a car is ultimately bought or not. Colour combinations that are being highly-sought-after in a particular region is further analysed and can enable OEMs to chalk out its manufacturing schedules at the plant in real-time as well as manage inventory schedules in a particular region. This can also avoid unnecessary investment in stock that can lie unsold at the dealership level, observed Wadhawan.
NEW AGE DEALERSHIPS
Powered by its Bengaluru-based India Innovation centre that specialises on building software platforms, the Digital SignEdge software also offers various solutions such as professional screens, digital signage players, content management system, cloud management, irrespective of geographies – ultra urban, urban, semi-urban or rural. MG Motor India dealerships monitor the solution from a single control point at its Gurugram headquarters.
Most OEMs in contemporary times aim to maintain a corporate identity, where customer touchpoints/ dealerships should look exactly the same and display content what the company wants its customers to see at any given point of time. Automotive OEMs in order to maximise its brand recall run varied campaigns and use different channels to communicate with a potential customer. Companies are increasingly focussed on analytics and the impact being created by the communication channels. This largely helps develop strategies for cost-optimisation as well as draft future communication channels according to the data collected.
The Digital SignEdge platform enables you to push content for MG Motor India scheduled for different time slots across the day and engage with customers. A media player controls the screens that Panasonic has supplied at the dealerships via a cloud. The software also enables the company to check whether the content display is active or not and if active, then on how many screens at a given point of time. Since different campaigns are operated by the OEM and high definition media is involved, the content to be displayed is buffered into the system at the dealership level during night time and scheduled for the next day as per manufacturer’s requirements, noted Wadhawan.
All the data collected is stored and transferred through an encrypted channel to the manufacturer on a cloud rather than a local storage at the dealership. A total of 78 dealerships and 150 service stations have already been equipped with 437 media players, driving over 970 different sized screens connected to the Panasonic SignEdge via MG Motors’ central cloud system.
Moving forward, the world is not going to be same anymore as people are expected to have increased apprehensions running with them for contactless transactions spanning many years. Solutions such as Digital SignEdge are expected to gain momentum as they help the company engage and interact with customers in a captivating manner. Panasonic has also been engaged in talks with various OEMs to deploy video conferencing at the dealerships to boost customer engagement and offer personalised interactions, which was largely-sought-after during pre-COVID-19 times. The company has also lined up plans to develop car configurators for mobile phones so that customers need not walk to the showroom but order a car online.
TEXT: Anirudh Raheja