London is home to busy streets lined with historical architecture sitting shoulder-to-shoulder. But that same gorgeous architecture leaves little room for car dealerships, which require a sprawling lot in order to store inventory. When Infiniti Retail Group U.K. considered the possible limitations of moving into a densely populated city, it wanted to change the typical car dealership experience. So they ditched the dealership and headed to the mall.
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The mall isn't the first place you'd think to stop when you want to buy a new car, but Infiniti U.K. is trying to change that perception, much in thanks to Microsoft's Surface 3 hybrid tablet. Instead of carrying a large number of configurations of each Infiniti model, shoppers can configure their vehicle on the Surface 3. They can see features, videos and brochures of the vehicles to get the exact model they want. Of course, you can't test drive a car from a tablet, but Infiniti already thought of that through by reserving spots outside the mall so customers can take the cars out for a spin.
Sealing the deal
Sales reps for Infiniti can do everything on the Surface 3, including signing contracts, paperwork and agreements. Infiniti reps can even take the tablets along in the car for a test drive, allowing shoppers to make quick decisions and figure out what they would want in their vehicle.
With everything on one device, it's also eliminated the need to store paperwork, since everything is kept in the cloud and made searchable. And with the Surface 3 pen, customers can quickly sign all the appropriate documents and get the ball rolling towards closing the deal.
Infiniti says that the Surface 3 has not only allowed for deeper customer engagement but it has actually limited the average time it takes for customers to come back before making a purchase, according to Brendan Norman, managing director of Infiniti Retail Group U.K. It's also reduced overhead costs in terms of having to rent or purchase real estate for the dealerships. The cost of the tablets pales in comparison when considering the costs of running a dealership in a city.
And while it's only been two months since deploying the Surface 3 shopping experience, Norman can say that it has dramatically improved sales. "We've had the machines active now for about two months in really heavy usage since the launch of the machine in the U.K.," he says, "and this has created a lot deeper discussion with the customers than we were having beforehand, and that's been turning into a quite dramatic increase in sales, particularly over the last month."
Infiniti says the Surface 3 is perfect for its business needs since it runs full Windows 8.1, or Windows 10, with an all-day battery and compact size. For workers that are away from their desks, including sales reps, it makes it easy to stay connected and make sales on the go. Everything they need is on one easy to use device, integrating into every step of the car sale process.
This story, "How tablets are changing the way people buy cars " was originally published by CIO.