Transformation is a fundamental attribute and a result of the need for change. It has actively defined the journey of brands and organisations, more so in the automotive industry, which, though has had its share of challenges, came out stronger with each passing storm.
We have braved many of these challenges, ranging from the great economic slowdown of 2008 to the recent pandemic, which has altered how virtually every sector and industry operates. We emerged resilient, stronger, and more experienced with every regional and global setback, equipped with innovation and an openness to adapt to the changing tides and trends.
But no journey of progress is positioned as such without contextual resonance. If you remember, 2015 was a time when the automotive industry was experiencing an influx of advanced technologies not only in engines and car makes, but also in the way auto brands communicated with customers. In response, we further amplified our messaging to make it even more strategic and balanced, putting customers, technology, and products at the heart of everything we did - and still do. We worked toward an enhanced customer experience, a better customer journey, and effective brand building to pave the way to the future we are currently in.
Given the state of the world, it is of the utmost importance for business models to adapt to the contemporary requirements of millennial and Gen Z customers, who are more digitally equipped and more sustainably attuned than their predecessors. Every change we embraced has its roots in a branching journey toward the next evolutionary step of the automotive industry, from a growing preference for electric vehicles to a complete digitalization of services.
Being ready for the future helps as we at Arabian Automobiles experienced first-hand — our digitalisation process commenced in 2018 and has been an integral part of our day-to-day operations. In 2020, when the pandemic hit, we were ready to take up any challenge; we were fortunate to have only needed to enhance our tools and optimize the customer experience instead of needing to conceive the path forward from scratch as many companies were compelled to.
In further consolidation of our progressive efforts, we launched the Nissan Retail Concept service centre that is designed to offer upgraded customer services and a globally consistent brand experience. Located on Sheikh Zayed Road, the centre embodies the new Nissan brand identity and presents a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints through optimised facility design, service processes, and a highly personalized digital environment. Over at Infiniti, we reimagined our showroom concept, conceiving the Infiniti Retail Environment Design Initiative to push our centres to the future while maintaining alignment with the brand identity.
It was through our preparedness that we were able to present a multitude of services for our customers, including video sales consultation, at home test-drives, virtual showrooms, and a lease-to-own programme through Nissan’s shop@home, Infiniti’s e-commerce platform, and Renault’s online store. These represent a possible projection of the automobile industry built with an inclusive vision that embraces the needs of customers and pre-emptively anticipates the future.
With the continuous enhancement of the customer digital journey, I envision future showrooms to be smaller, displaying only the cars that would formulate 80 per cent of our turnover. Consolidating our efforts, showroom staff will also be explicitly digital natives who operate on a platform of constant evolution and innovation. Tomorrow’s showroom will also certainly not resemble what it has over the previous generations, heralding an era that we are anticipating and that we have been preparing for.