A Car Matchmaking Service Beyond the Traditional Configuration Tools
- Digital Platforms
- Marketing Services
Get to Know BMW
Founded over 100 years ago to develop airships and aircraft engines, the BMW Group is now one of the world's leading manufacturers of premium automobiles and motorcycles, and provider of premium financial and mobility services with 31 production and assembly plants in 15 countries and a global sales network.
More Than a Car Configurator
No matter where you are in the world, buying a car is not just a series of pragmatic decisions; it’s not just how big the trunk is, how many seats do we need or if it´s good for kids etc. It´s also what do I want my car to say? What model reflects my personality? Am I an SUV person, or am I more of a down to the road sporty person?
Originally, this project was to create a more seamless experience for customers to conveniently find BMW stock cars, but as the concept developed, the experience got broader.
To configure a car demands that you know what car you want to base your configuration on. We wanted to create a service tool that enables you to not only find out what kind of car you need and reflects you, but also to get the car keys same day.
It all began with us wanting to have the power of choice when it comes to online sales. The power of choice means owning the data and being able to adapt and develop based on the insights you get from it. Before, we depended on third party websites listing stock cars together with every other car brand out there like a restaurant menu. That is not good enough anymore.
To exceed customer expectations, we need to keep them in our own channels all the way to conversion and dealer purchase. So, next question was when we own this data, what kind of experience do we want to give our customers?”
Cristian Porseby, head of Digital, BMW Nothern Europe
A Better Customer Journey Means Happier Customers
A frustrated client told us, “Up until now, our ‘online sales’ of cars in stock has required us to give our car data to third party websites, and buying that data back in the shape of a car ad with homemade photographs, which we then can use as lead generators on our dealer websites. It´s a customer journey from hell. Please help us!”
We realized that first we needed BMW to own their destiny, that meant owning their own data. Every story has a beginning, and this is where ours started.
After that we considered the differences between live and digital car purchases. A car is both a statement and a means to fulfill a purpose. That means that creating some kind of a new configurator was out of the question. To configure, you need to know what kind of car you want and need. This is why people go to a car saloon or dealership to get familiar. What if you can familiarize yourself by asking the right questions digitally?
Introducing the Digital Sales Advisor
If you are familiar with the products, then you can obviously go straight to the cars available right away and place you order. But if you are new, or if you recently have had a life changing experience and need help finding what kind of BMW you need, for this you can go through this matchmaking service. Fill in the hard values, how many passengers, do you need child seats, do you need extra luggage space, etc., and you will get results of all models that fit those needs.
Out of those models, you then adjust the hard values, based on your preferenses, personality, design statement and so on. Then you have the one result that fits you the best according to actual data, followed by secondary choises that also fit you in a ranking order.
Then you can obviously go to the showroom or configure and tailor your chosen model, but best of all you can actually order that specific car at a dealership. You can choose the closest dealership, or one with a better price, or a dealership that sells your model in the right color, and much more.
Building a Platform is Only Half the Battle
We also saw this as an opportunity to make great conceptual bridges for communication, centralizing the human behind the purchase. Car campaigns have been more or less molded in the same shape since the beginning.
But having a matchmaking service like this as a foundation makes it possible to communicate BMW’s whole fleet of cars to the different audiences they are relevant for. Thanks to BMW’s big range, we can truly match the right people to their product within the same concept and campaign. Empathy in its true form.
We started the campaign with a test. Hard value communication with product focus against emotional storytelling, both targeted women 30 - 55. Online marketing with SEO and SEM stunts is also something we wanted to include in the campaign. In time, CRM and loyalty will also be included.
Preparing for the Future
We tried, learned, and tried better. This sums up the approach we wanted to implement throughout our process. In this responsive and interactive project, we needed to go beyond wireframes and sketches, so we coded real prototypes to make user testing closer to reality. This gave us the opportunity to make better design decisions for the end product.
Early on, we realized that we needed to define each model’s characteristics and personality. We let data and user insights lead the way to create a personality matrix. With this matrix we could easily translate seat counts, luggage space and desired car characteristics to usable data for the customers. This bridges the gap between formal stock list car data and the BMW experience.