Google Think Auto 2013 Conference – Reflections


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Looking for ideas to enhance the customer experience in the automotive industry is a fascinating journey. Our company spends a lot of time studying and measuring the customer experience and yesterday was special because I was at the Google Think Auto conference and it gets you thinking.

A highlight was the retail expert from the UK. As he acknowledged he wasn’t a car guy but his theme was the blurring between the traditional and digital retail experience.

BurberryA fascinating example was the Burberry Kisses site. You can send a personal note to your loved one but the kicker is that you turn on the camera on your phone, tablet, PC, etc. and kiss into it. I’m not joking. It takes a picture of your lip mark (is that a word?), affixes it to a virtual letter complete with a personal greeting, and off it goes to the intended recipient complete with a virtual tour of the landscape it takes to get there (courtesy of Google maps).

I sent one to my wife at work and yes, it actually captured a silhouette of the Toronto skyline as the letter gets delivered into her virtual mailbox. Amazing brand building experience. Imagine if we sent something like that to every new car customer. A bit creepy perhaps with the kiss mark, but you get the idea.

To check it out, here’s the link:

AdidasOr there was the Adidas example. The problem Adidas faces is they have literally thousands of shoes with not enough room to display them in their retail stores. The solution? The Virtual Footwear Wall that the customer interacts with in the physical store to display the myriad of shoes that are available. They select the one they want from the screen which allows them to view it virtually from all angles. Purchase usually follows. Sound feasible for a dealership that doesn’t have the physical space to show all the models? Here’s the link:

Kate SpadeOr there’s the Kate Spade Saturday Window Shop, the NYC women’s chain that takes over vacant retail space (there is some in New York) and covers the front windows with essentially a large tablet that allows the shopper to view a selection of merchandise, select the appropriate item 24 hours a day, and get it delivered anywhere in Manhattan within an hour. Hmmm….I wonder if this can be applied to parts and accessory sales. Check it out.

HointersAnd then there was the Hointer clothing store example. Faced with a similar situation of too much product and not enough space to show it all (similar to the Adidas example…and car dealerships), Hointer allows a shopper to view a product in the store, scan the QR code, specify the size, be automatically assigned a change room, and as if by magic, enter the change room and the pair of jeans in the correct size is waiting for them having been delivered via a secret laundry chute. Here’s that one:

The point of all these examples is there are different ways of doing business, especially when it comes to blurring the lines between traditional retail and the digital world. It’s fascinating and potentially lucrative for the automotive industry as we strive to deliver a better customer experience.

Give me your thoughts. How do you see this applying to the automotive business?

Until next time.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Travell
Chris Travell is VP, Strategic Consulting for the Automotive Group of Maritz Research. He is responsible for working with Maritz' Insight Teams to further the understanding and application of the firm's automotive research. He has appeared on numerous television programs and is often quoted in Automotive News, Time, USA Today, Edmunds, Detroit Free Press, The Globe and Mail and various other publications in regard to issues related to the North American automotive industry. He is the principal contributor to The Ride Blog, Maritz Research's automotive blog.


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