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  6. Car dealers become online consultants

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Car dealers become online consultants

During the corona pandemic, the digitalization of the vehicle business is gaining speed. Many car dealerships are turning to online consultation via tablet or smartphone. Examples from the German market.

Sales consultant Tobias Jentsch grabs the keys and smartphone – then he goes out onto the yard. He stops in front of a dark Golf station wagon. He brushes his hand over the rims, opens the trunk, switches on the auxiliary heater. Actually, the same procedure as always. The special thing about this walk-around: Jentsch stands alone next to the car. His customer is seated 100 kilometers away in front of their smartphone and is shown the vehicle online.

The virtual tours of the Kuhn & Witte car dealership near Hamburg had been planned for some time. Then came corona – and the new consulting service started at exactly the right time. Since the end of April, Jentsch has been guiding interested parties around the yard with the camera on his smartphone. “The first customers were thrilled. They thought it was great that they didn’t have to come to us,” he says.

Jentsch has been working at Kuhn & Witte for eight years. The company sells Volkswagen, Audi and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles models at three locations. As at most car dealerships, the economic consequences of the pandemic are clearly felt. “So, we have much fewer walk-in customers than usual,” says Jentsch. Video consultation on the other hand is popular.

Appointment by tablet

The car dealership near Hamburg is not a one-off case. With the spread of the corona virus, the digitalization of the car business has gained even more speed. One of the latest trends are solutions that allow customers to receive individual advice from home. Without fear of infection.

Take Audi, for example: since the beginning of April, interested individuals have been able to book a live consultation at more than 40 partnerships such as Audi City in Berlin. They make an appointment with the car dealership of their choice and connect with an employee via computer, tablet or smartphone. The consultant wears data glasses, with which they can take customers into their preferred car. Interesting features can thus be demonstrated as desired. Customers receive additional information on their display, while the consultant can send additional photos and videos at the same time.

Appointments for Audi Live Consultation can be arranged either online via the website of the respective dealer or by phone. An international rollout is planned on the strength of the experience gained in Germany.

Audi live consultation: Using data glasses, employees take interested individuals into their desired car

At Volkswagen Group Retail Deutschland, which has more than 100 car dealerships, online advice is also part of the customer approach: since May, sales advisors and customers have been able to connect via video conference, exchange information or jointly configure a new car. Employees can also use smartphones to show cars in the showroom and demonstrate functions. “The focus is on interaction. Online consulting is also all about the wishes and questions of customers,” says Jörg Kamenz, member of the management board. Volkswagen Group Retail Deutschland sells more than 190,000 new and used cars from the Volkswagen Passenger Car, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA, Porsche, Lamborghini and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brands every year.

“You just have to keep your finger on the pulse”

Back to Tobias Jentsch at the Kuhn & Witte dealership. The 42-year-old is prepared for his work to be permanently altered by the digital business. Since 2016, he has been providing interested individuals with short films of the vehicles on demand. He has one foot in the door. “Some colleagues shoot the films in teams of two and are then in the picture a lot. I usually do it alone and concentrate on the car. It’s a matter of choice,” he says. He evaluates his initial experiences with the new video consulting service positively. The feedback from customers so far has been overwhelmingly positive. From the consultant’s point of view, time has also been invested efficiently. “Anyone who makes an appointment like this has a firm interest in buying,” says Jentsch.

Parallel to the video consultation, Kuhn & Witte has introduced an online shop – accessible via the homepage. Anyone who wants to can almost entirely buy a car digitally using it. Only the loan agreement comes in the mail if required. Jentsch sees the new digital possibilities pragmatically. He says: “Online channels now simply belong to the process. You just have to keep your finger on the pulse and make it part of your everyday life.”

Fuel consumption

* Golf GTI - fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 8.2 - 7.8 / extra-urban 5.5 - 5.3 / combined 6.4 - 6.3; CO2 emissions combined: 148 - 145; efficiency class: D

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