Audi has launched a "digital" showroom on Berlin's grand Kurfuerstendamm boulevard as part of a shift by luxury carmakers to display vehicles virtually while moving into smaller city center locations to entice young affluent consumers.
Audi’s showroom, while only a quarter of the size of a conventional dealership and with a display of just four models, enables busy city customers to view and configure cars from the carmaker’s entire lineup using multi-media screens, without needing to go out of town. German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz are also pursuing similar sales strategies seen as anovel way to attract new customers. "Staging the brand is becoming so much more important," Audi's head of Germany sales, Wayne Griffiths, told Reuters.
The Berlin digital showroom is Audi's third, following those in London and Beijing. German carmakers like Audi are challenged by the scarce spaces in urban centers where they could display their full model and technology portfolio. They found their answers in digital showrooms, where small spaces are not a hindrance.
Audi will use its 375-square-meter showroom to focus on virtual demonstrations, while still delivering the personal touch of a car dealer and the comfort of a customer lounge. According to Griffiths, Audi’s Beijing digital showroom has been attracting 8,000 visitors a week while its digital store in London has 60 percent of customers being new to the brand.
Audi has vowed to surpass BMW as the best-selling luxury brand in the world by 2020. BMW saw its gap with Audi shrink in 2013 to 80,000 cars. BMW is already pursuing online sales for its i3 city car and will take online orders for the new i8 plug-in hybrid sports car due spring. Audi, on the other hand, has yet to pursue online deals.