Forbes Todd Automotive Group has introduced an AI computer vision solution at its Audi Dallas location as it seeks to offer customers a more immersive environment with a touchless approach to merchandising. When customers place their hands above a product, in this case an Audi A4, information and inside views are projected on the hood. When it comes time to connect with a salesperson, customers already know more about the features they want from the products.
The HoverTouch tools from Spacee have helped the Audi Dallas team overcome challenges stemming from COVID-19, supply chain hurdles and the microchip shortage, noted Tom McCollum, President and CEO at Forbes Todd Automotive Group, and have allowed it to dramatically reduce the number of cars kept in inventory. Prior to the pandemic, McCollum would carry approximately 450 units; today, the average is 25.
“In my showroom I would love to have each model with a HoverTouch,” said McCollum in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “That’s not in the cards just yet, but I can certainly see it just around the corner.”
“The customer can buy the actual car they’re playing with because our technology is not installed on the car,” said Skip Howard, Founder and CEO of Spacee in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “You can drive it up and drive a new one in.”
McCollum placed the Audi A4 with HoverTouch near the service waiting area to attract customers, encouraging them to engage with the brand further and discover new offerings. “It’s the novelty value for some people, but other people spend a good 10 or 15 minutes interacting with the vehicle while they’re here waiting for service, because people have not seen anything like this. Our penchant for technology [supports our efforts] to bring additional value to the customer.”
Within the newly renovated 90,000-square-foot space, Audi Dallas features digital works of art and spaces where dealer, manufacturer and local civic meetings may be held, as part of a retail space that embraces innovation and receives traffic from multiple sources. Additionally, through the use of computer vision solutions, retailers can expand their retail experiences into any environment including shopping centers and sporting arenas.
“Think of an auto whether it’s at your state fair or the big Detroit show — we have a big auto show coming up here in Dallas,” McCollum said. “[There are also opportunities at] malls and other outside displays.”
In addition to McCollum’s vision for expanding into non-traditional retail spaces, the technology can help brands create wider reach for campaigns that promote their goods, using already-created content from other media.
As McCollum anticipates receipt of the Audi Q4 e-tron in August, he predicted that blending the HoverTouch technology with an electric vehicle will create an elevated merchandising approach. “The technology is cool enough that people want to show it off,” said McCollum. “[It’s] educational, informative and cutting edge, but it also helps us merchandise.”