Audi City: Inventing the Dealership of the Future

Jul 19, 2012 by in 5D, Experience Design, Kinect, Microsoft Kinect, Mobile, Multi-touch, News, Portfolio, Retail, Technology, Touchscreen

We’re excited by the launch of a revolutionary showroom experience for a premiere automotive brand. After a year of collaboration between Audi and a wide range of partners, Audi City has launched near Piccadilly Circus in London, ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

Piccadilly Circus in London

Audi City London is a groundbreaking dealership experience delivered by one of the most technologically advanced retail environments ever created. The digital environment features multi-touch displays for configuring your Audi vehicle from millions of possible combinations. Your personalized car is visualized in photorealistic 3D using real-time render technology, making the Audi City vehicle configurator the most advanced in the world. After personalizing your Audi, you can toss your vehicle onto one of the floor-to-ceiling digital “powerwalls” to visualize your car configuration in life-size scale. From here, you can use gestures to interact with your personalized vehicle, exploring every angle and detail in high resolution using Kinect technology.

credit: Audi

A purely digital showroom can’t deliver on the tactile experience of buying a car. Therefore, a store associate can save your configuration on a RFID-enabled USB stick and guide you into a personal consultation area that features a variety of tactile objects. These objects help the customers get hands-on with the materials of the vehicle including car exterior color and finish options and interior upholstery options. Each of these tangible objects are digitally-tagged through RFID technology. You can bring bring any of these physical objects over to the configurator experience and the corresponding exterior paint finishes and interior options will automatically update your vehicle configuration.

credit: Audi

When purchasing a car, the customer journey occurs across multiple channels. In order to integrate and simplify the car buying process, we’ve allowed customers to retrieve their online car configurations in the showroom environment. In addition, any car configuration made in the showroom is synchronized to your personal USB stick. Simply pop in the USB stick at home and the web-based configurator is automatically launched with the exact car configuration you created in the showroom. This allows Audi to deliver a “start anywhere, end anywhere” buying cycle for the customer, which has proven elusive for retailers.

Not only is Audi City a premier showroom environment, the dealership concept represents a fundamental shift in retail strategy for the brand. This new small-footprint retail format brings Audi closer to their customers, not only geographically but also emotionally. The smaller-footprint concept will launch in metropolitan environments and reach a younger urban and digitally-enabled demographic. After hours, the environment will serve as a cultural center in the larger community by playing host to readings, round-table discussions and art exhibitions.

credit: Audi

“Audi City combines the best of two worlds – digital product presentation and personal contact with the dealer” says Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management at Audi. “People are placing greater emphasis than ever before on a direct and personal bond of trust with their vehicle brand – especially in respect of the increasing variety of products and available information. Thus, with Audi City we are creating a one-stop-shop for experiencing our brand. It is right in the midst of our customers’ lives, yet seamlessly connected to the online range offered by the four rings.”

Audi announced at the London launch that 20 showrooms in other major international cities will follow by 2015.

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    • http://twitter.com/ericgrant Eric Grant

      Awesome work!

    • Sergey

      This feels really wasteful and wrong. To buy a car you need to explore the features, but why does it have to be in a store? Same full digital experience can be on iPad (or another tablet) at the comfort of your own home, without pressure of a sales person standing behind you. Once the features are more or less selected, you want your tactile experience (mentioned in the video), but what is the best way to get that? Test drive! Look, touch, feel the real car, not the cut outs. Driving experience is the most important exploration (at least for me). That’s why most people come to dealership anyway.

      And after your configure your car, what’s the point of giving special USB stick? just waste of money on the stick! Can’t it simply be saved onto user’s account, registered right there in the dealership? That would also let dealership collect emails of potential customers. And for the user they won’t be limited to an outdated USB stick, that’s not compatible with their iPad or iPhone.

      The floor controls are pretty useless too. Why would anyone prefer to press buttons with their feet, as opposed to their fingers? Standing on a button waiting when cursor on the screen moves to a desired selection? Bad user experience.

    • David Ricketts

      Love this work. I believe that a number of major brands are going to have to move parts of their retail estate to taking on this look and feel, especially as you can see the growth of e-commerce. This solution with click and collect would be amazing

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