TORONTO — Cadillac bought a 10,000-square-foot (930-square-metre) film studio in Toronto and converted it into a sleek showroom.
But outside of the 22 or so “live agents” who work there, it’s not meant for shoppers to drop by to take a look at a new Cadillac. Instead, car buyers use a smartphone, tablet or computer to interact with those agents, who can answer questions and give a virtual tour of vehicles.
Cadillac Live, which launched in March, operates from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Eastern time, Sunday through Thursday.
The showroom, conceived in Canada two years ago, is designed to both generate leads for dealerships across the country when they’re closed and give time-crunched customers the opportunity to learn more about vehicles on their own schedule, said Hoss Hassani, managing director of Cadillac Canada.
ADDRESSES TIME PROBLEMS
“Particularly with luxury buyers, there’s a starvation of time,” Hassani said. “It gives them the ability to essentially shop for a Cadillac anywhere: Their home, the gym.
“It’s really designed to address the time issue as well as the need for ever more information that suits their individual circumstances, as opposed to the typical marketing-speak that advertisers and brands push out that may or may not answer the question a shopper has on their mind.”
Cadillac Live agents are equipped with an iPhone X, Osmo Mobile gimbal and Bluetooth headset, providing two-way audio and one-way live video. The shopper sees the agent and vehicle, but the agent doesn’t see the shopper.
Agents also have an app interface that allows them to show any colour, wheel and accessory option that piques a customer’s interest.
The showroom can be accessed from the cadillac.ca homepage. Shoppers can then choose to begin a new session with an agent, view a prerecorded session or book a live session at a later time or date. The tool also offers virtual tours of the Cadillac Live showroom, which has 10 vehicles on display.
THIS IS NOT A DEALERSHIP
Cadillac Live is not intended to replace the dealership shopping experience, Hassani said. Instead, it should be seen as a “complementary part” of the vehicle shopping process, as agents direct users to a local dealership for test drives and appointments.
“In its current form, it’s not a transactional environment,” Hassani said. “We’ll be there to help answer people’s questions, give them exposure to the product and so forth.”
Early sessions have shown that customers are asking questions that are highly personal to their needs, Hassani said. For example, some want to know how cargo room can accommodate hockey equipment.
“This validates that when you’ve got 240,000 Canadians buying luxury cars every year, there are certainly some things in common that they’re looking for. But there are also things that are personal and individual.”
While Cadillac Live responded to “Canadian shopper insights,” Hassani said, the platform could be rolled out globally.
“The beauty of having this platform in Toronto is that Toronto is the best talent pool for live agents that could service the world,” Hassani said. “So if we need highly engaging Japanese-speaking live agents or Korean-speaking live agents or Arabic-speaking live agents or Spanish speaking live agents, all of that talent exists in Toronto.”
Greg Layson contributed to this report.