What’s your real expectation of a visit to a car dealer (or retailer as the manufacturers generally call them these days)? Does it fill you with glee, with the sort of excitement that probably the second-biggest purchase in your life should create? Or… maybe, by any chance, you are predicting shiny suited sales guys you expect will know less than you do (other than their commission prospects)? How come we’ve ended up with this depressing prospect?

And yet. And yet. You probably should drive it before you buy it. It would be good to check out the colour in real life – especially if it’s orange. Ideally, getting to buy the right car with the right options would be a good way to spend the money. Shouldn’t it be exciting, informative, helpful, even fun? Is that too much to ask of a humungous purchase? And whilst the march of everything digital is a beautiful thing for people like us in the digital production business, there are still times when a ‘real’ experience is unbeatable.

People need positive reasons to go to the bricks and mortar – and it can’t be just for signing the paperwork because, well, that’s not a reason anymore either. As consumers shift ever more online, there’s a huge opportunity for digital tools to have a positive, direct impact on retailing. You only need to read something like Accenture’s Digital Driver Automotive Survey (click for handy link) to see very clearly that digital is dominating the path to purchase and if you’re selling you need to be all over it. 

Where does digital fit in?

Information, information, information. The surge in digital innovation gives more power to savvy consumers and demands more transparency from retailers. If you can harness the power of digital you can create a pre-sale experience that resonates with customers and benefits sales teams – it all comes down to the right information at the right time in the purchase process.

 As global screen usage continues to grow, product galleries, specs, running cost estimates and package options can all be reviewed, compared and admired from pretty much anywhere. Then there’s personalised film, up-to-date industry news, technology how-to’s, ‘Will it fit in my garage?’… the list goes on. Working with BMW Group in the UK our LaunchPad platform brings this all together, meaning that retailers can offer a reason, or quite a lot of reasons, to visit their showrooms more frequently for that touching and feeling thing. Whilst LaunchPad was born as an e-learning platform, with the commitment of the good people of BMW, we pushed “What say we.…?” over the edge of the cliff and here we are with a market-leading, smart, intuitive and versatile digital platform.

On the retailer side, the platform works with the existing infrastructure and data and is very ‘light’ from an IT perspective (phew). It delivers sales teams everything they need to know about the product from the day of launch, constantly refined and updated, daily industry news – no more scouring the web (we give ourselves Christmas Day off although people still log in, oh yes we know they do) – allowing information engagement to be tracked in real time, meaning the sales team have literally everything they need to talk confidently and knowledgeably about the brilliant product.

As a prospect, LaunchPad gives you customised content and information based on your interactions with the BMW teams – either ‘live’ in the showroom or through personalised emails with open and click-through rates as a marketer you would genuinely not believe. This turns what was once a scattergun approach into something unique to you: a bespoke customer experience from pre-purchase to the first time you turn the key (which actually you don’t really do in a BMW anymore).

What’s in it for me?

The success of the system is down to the fact that its scope is basically limitless. It is completely bespoke, flexible and expandable, meaning it can be adapted to accommodate new trends, tech and customer feedback. It doesn’t exist anywhere else on the market. It’s efficient, customisable, a high-end experience, which is right in line with BMW’s premium brand attributes.

Changing times.

As business adapts to new technology and trends, there’s a fantastic opportunity for brands and retailers to invest in digital products that improve customer experience and sales knowledge beyond all recognition. Digital absolutely does not mean the end of physical. If you have the bricks and mortar use it to drive the customers to you – and don’t disappoint them when they arrive (see paragraph 1…).

This is just the beginning as the digital revolution merges learning and comms strategies. We’re working on something pretty neat right now that will transform the handover experience. No more reading the 350-page handbook and wondering which options you ordered all those months ago. ‘Subject to Specification’ becomes a thing of the past, and that means happier, more loyal punters who will talk positively about the experience down the pub (if it hasn’t shut).

Here comes the sales bit. If you’d like to add a bit of Juice to your 2017 digital and/or retail plans, then feel free to drop us a line.