Physical showrooms are increasingly moving towards heavy digital technology inclusion, with the future showrooms possibly becoming vehicle-less entirely
The traditional method of purchasing an automobile for personal use, be it four-wheeler or two-wheeler, used to involve physical visitation of a showroom, and test driving the intended vehicle model. The practice was generally in carrying out this process at the nearest showroom available, and then banking on the salesperson’s word on all aspects of the product. A major setback in this form of pre-purchase exercise, specifically in the case of four-wheelers was that the showroom offered the test drive in the top-end variant of the vehicle, which was equipped with all the bells and whistles. However, only a fraction of the mass purchases were for that particular variant, which meant that one never really knew the shortcomings they would have to live with in their specific vehicle model.
CURRENT TECH MODELS
The showroom is now considered as the physical place to carry out transaction formalities and vehicle delivery, with most other steps carried out by customers using digital technologies. The present customer carries out extensive research online before actually taking a test drive, and in many cases this concept of test drive itself is absent. Therefore, the customer reaches out to a showroom after identifying precisely what their requirement is, and then negotiating on the price.
In turn, OEM dealerships have also moving towards new-age digital technologies to keep up with the tech-savvy customers of today. We see the extensive utilisation of technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the manner by which their products are showcased to potential customers. In addition, customers are offered services including online booking of vehicles, doorstep test drives and even customised vehicle delivery options. These factors have changed the concept of the showroom entirely.
The use of immersive, next-generation digital innovations provide customers with an experience that they may not be able to find even in a physical showroom. These technologies enable them to customise their vehicles to the most preferred configuration, and almost view how their vehicle will look at delivery. This cannot be made possible in the physical showroom due to limited access to space and vehicle numbers.
The use of digital accessories in the retail sales channels of automobiles is a recent development, which is growing at a rapid pace. It has also led to the possibility of having completely digital showrooms, without even the physical presence of one single vehicle. Such advances also enable dealerships to setup an establishment in a place that is centrally-located to enable maximum footfall, but has the limitation of floor space. Therefore, with the growth in urbanisation across the country, and the spike in uptake of digital technologies, new digitally-inclines retail sales channels are set to become the future of automotive retailing.