Sanlitun – a trend-setting neighbourhood in the Beijing district of Chaoyang: In summer, guests can relax in the café of the world’s largest Mercedes-Benz flagship store. Other visitors can stroll through the store and explore the full Mercedes-Benz product range on four touchscreen tables. With just a few swipes and taps, they can discover their dream car, view it from every angle and customise the various options. The interface is intuitive; shop assistants only help when asked. This is a showroom that creates a link between the digital and physical world.
New ideas need space: we do not only create digital innovations and services for our customers, we also launch our own products – in this case on the Chinese market. A total of ten multi-touch displays with integrated high-performance computers boast impressive high-resolution vehicle visualization in real time along with a soft configurator. Particularly impressive is the Powerwall, with its four combined full-HD displays showing the dream vehicle on an almost life-size scale. A unique connection between the real and virtual world – exactly what our long-time customer Mercedes-Benz was looking for in order to offer its customers a very special, individual brand experience.
For the first time, visitors can peruse the full range of vehicles on a 55-inch touchscreen and simply tap to move to the next stage. The model explorer both displays and describes the differences between models. Next, the user can examine the desired model from every side – four different angles, including the interior and a 360-degree view of the exterior, show the car in all its glory, both by day and by night.
And customers can do more than just look – they can be part of the design process too: the Chooser lets them customise the colours, wheels, upholstery and trim. Black or anthracite? A special comparison view simplifies the choice between two preferred configurations. What makes the selection so unique is the use of near-field communication (NFC) tags – physical paint patterns that can be applied to the virtual car via NFC. We are currently working on expanding this feature to the interior as well, to the fabric pattern of the upholstery, for instance.
In addition to existing technologies like NFC, other innovations developed by NOLTE&LAUTH made their way into the project, including the NL Image Proxy, which is a sort of interface for Mercedes-Benz supply systems used in preparing vehicle visualizations. We currently use this innovation for other projects as well.
The NL Digital Showroom represented the fulfilment of a dream – to create our own physical product. Within just two years, our team of retail specialists and user experience designers worked with Mercedes-Benz staff to get the digital showroom up and running – despite several challenges such as tight deadlines, vast quantities of data and entire continents that had to be managed in terms of geography, languages and cultures. The final product was a completely unique software and hardware combination that lived up to our customer’s ‘nothing but the best’ standard – and our own.
The development of the NL Digital Showroom for the flagship store in Beijing is one reason why I'm so pleased with the work of NOLTE&LAUTH. When it really matters, we all pull together and exceed even our own high standards.
The showroom is not just found in the flagship store in Beijing, but in six other car dealerships across China as well. Naturally we took the particularities of the Chinese market into consideration. Apart from Chinese menu navigation and product assortment, which tends to consist of packages rather than individual features, we conducted interviews with local dealers so that we could factor in buying and communications habits as well. Chinese customers want to try out the device first, and they do not share their dream car on WhatsApp, but instead on WeChat by using a QR code that is valid for the next one to two weeks and linked to the configured model.
As with all our innovations, we never run out of ideas for further developing the product either. With qualitative customer and dealer interviews and quantitative user-tracking data, we are constantly generating new information that will enable continuous optimization. For example, we are currently working on 3D visualizations as well as virtual and augmented reality enhancements. Expansion to international markets is also under way. Keep checking our blog for announcements on these exciting developments.
The NL Digital Showroom testifies to our experience in automotive retail, our technical expertise and exceptional standard for developing the sales experience of the next generation.