Mobile technology and multimedia tools enhance the car-shopping experience, reports Cheryl Tay
The Sunday Times
My Lifestyle, My Drive
15 May 2011
AT VOLKSWAGEN Centre Singapore, customers waiting for their cars to be serviced can use the Apple iMac terminals at the visitor lounge to surf the Internet or browse the interactive e-brochure.
Potential car buyers at the BMW M showroom can have a vicarious experience of driving by plugging into the headphones on the interactive sound wall to listen to the different M engines.
Handy tools on iPhone
Last December, local automotive distributor Cycle & Carriage — which distributes Mercedes-Benz, Kia, Citroen and Mitsubishi — launched SG Driver, a free iPhone application (app) that has handy tools such as accident guides, carpark locator and a mileage log.
SG Driver also contains up-to-date information of the four car marques, including specifications of new cars, aftersales service, news and events. Its service centres, showroom locations and opening hours are available at your fingertips through the app.
Catalogue on iPad
Other than iPhone apps, iPads are making their way into car showrooms, with German carmaker Mercedes-Benz as the trendsetter.
Over 50 iPads were distributed to the sales team at Mercedes-Benz in mid-February, when the customised Mercedes-Benz iShowroom application was launched.
“By equipping our sales team with iPads, we are able to capitalise on the benefits of technology and provide our customers with the latest information and data on our products.
“Through the application, they are also able to gain first-hand access to the products’ features,” says Mr Gilbert Kwek, vice-president for sales and marketing at Mercedes-Benz Singapore.
Instead of thumbing through thick catalogues, you can check on the cars’ features, prices, financing options and view product videos just by touching the iPad screen at the Mercedes-Benz iShowroom.
Lexus has also recently introduced iPad to the showroom for their top-end model, the Lexus LFA supercar.
The iPads are specially displayed with an LFA application to show off the specifications and various colour presentations of the car.
Other forms of technologies used in the Lexus showroom include a touch screen stand with interactive learning for its hybrid cars as well as an integrated content management system for the continuous video streams played on the plasma screens.
Besides being interactive catalogues, the iPad is also used for customer registration at events.
For example, Volkswagen Centre Singapore provides iPads for customer registration and surveys for their events.
In the past, Volkswagen used to give out printed registration and survey forms for customers to fill in. They have since switched to iPads to cut paper usage and to increase efficiency.
The responses are filled in immediately and the time required for the entire process is reduced, thus making it more efficient for customers to ask further questions on the spot.
iPads are also used for registering customers’ interests in signing up for test drives of Volkswagen cars. This significantly reduces the queues at the registration counter.
“In the third quarter of the year, we will be putting into place a new system that uses PDAs (personal digital assistants) so our sales consultants can present sales information to prospective customers off-site.
“The PDAs will hold pictures, videos and car data which can be accessed anywhere at any time, whether is it in the showrooms or at external venues,” says Mr Victor Tan, general manager of Champion Motors, the authorised distributor for Suzuki in Singapore.
*This article was first published in The Sunday Times.