Audi says it is intensifying its focus on digital solutions for its customers.
The company and its dealerships are integrating e-commerce solutions for purchasing new and used cars in more and more markets. France is the pilot market for a new online reservation tool, and online sales of new cars from dealer stock have been launched in Germany. But virtual consulting and service offers are also continuing to gain importance.
"We've been engaged with the mega trend of digitalization for a long time now. Given the distancing required to contain the global coronavirus crisis, this has now picked up even more momentum worldwide," said Sven Schuwirth, Head of Digital Experience and Business at AUDI AG. "As a result, we have been able to very quickly offer a variety of agile solutions that enable a seamless digital customer journey. New e-commerce offerings in conjunction with our dealerships play a key role here. We are increasingly converting our worldwide websites from purely informational tools to true transaction tools."
An online reservation tool for in-stock vehicles from Audi partners went live in the French market this week. For a lump sum of EUR100, customers can immediately reserve available new and used cars from dealers via the Audi website and thus secure their dream car. The respective dealer will then contact the customer directly and handle the contractual details and delivery of the vehicle, even to the customer's home, if desired. This e-commerce solution will gradually be rolled out to other European markets, with the rollout in Spain starting in June.
Another e-commerce project has been launched in Germany. On a new, Group-wide platform, customers will be able to buy new cars around the clock directly from Audi dealer stock. An initial pilot project with one Audi partner is now underway, with additional dealerships to follow successively over the course of the year.
"The aim is to offer a complete digital solution that is contactless and available 24/7, and that conveniently covers every step of the car purchasing process from any location: from the purchase using various payment options to registration and personal delivery to the desired location by our Audi partners," said Martin Wallenborn, Head of Business Development Market Germany at AUDI AG. With respect to financing, the Audi pilot project is first starting with cash purchases. For the medium term, the company is focusing on an end-to-end digital solution for financing and leasing through Audi Bank. The online shop can now be accessed at https://kaufen.audi.de. This solution will also be rolled out successively in other markets worldwide.
Audi started online sales of used cars in Germany in autumn 2017. Around 130 Audi partners offer an average of 4,000 used Audi models online here. This sales channel will be moved to the new online platform by the end of the year. The premium mobility service Audi on demand has also been available completely digitally since last year: Customers in Germany can book their dream Audi online for a period of between one and 28 days at www.audiondemand.de.
The digital reservation and purchasing solutions also feature various tools for online service and consultation. With Audi Live Consultation, for example, Audi is further expanding its digital sales business, offering dealers and customers a contactless alternative to visits to a dealership. The application connects sales and service staff with customers and potential Audi buyers with the use of data glasses, which enables individual meetings to take place directly at and inside the car, regardless of location.
Audi also recently started answering questions about its vehicles' equipment details by using video tutorials, such as those at www.audi.de/erklaervideos. Most of the 60 videos currently available here apply across model lines and focus on various aspects such as operation of the navigation system.
Audi dealers, especially those in China, have found creative digital solutions in recent months to keep in touch with customers and to win over new fans. Audi opted for a purely digital format when launching the new Audi A4 L, which is one of the brand's most popular models in the Chinese market. An interactive cloud workshop virtually connected Product, Design and Marketing experts from Changchun, Beijing and Ingolstadt with around 800 media representatives. Millions of interested customers experienced a digital "Super Cloud Launch" that included augmented and virtual reality formats in cooperation with a television station. In addition, Chinese Audi partners have made use of live streams, virtual reality showrooms and 24-hour online consulting to stay in touch with customers. The Chinese market has shown significantly increased interest in e-commerce. In the first three months of the year, the company almost tripled the total number of its online transactions from 2019. This means that about one in six Chinese customers initiated their Audi purchase online.