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Porsche recently began implementing bar codes – often referred to in consumer applications as QR codes (or quick response codes) – into window stickers placed on vehicles displayed at dealerships. The Mobile Tag program aims to provide potential customers, many whom may prefer to visit the dealership after-hours, a better experience than simply peering in through the window.Interested to learn more about the new mobile technologies Porsche’s using, I contacted Ohio dealer Michelle Primm of Cascade Auto Group. The family-owned and -run business has been selling vehicles for more than 40 years. Today, you can find vehicles from Audi, Mazda, Porsche, and Subaru at their store in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
I caught up with Primm over the phone in late July. She described the Porsche bar code application and how it functions, likening it to visiting a microsite specifically built for each vehicle depending on its make, model, and specifications. The application enables users to learn everything about the car – and even hear its exhaust note.The “Showroom Smart Scan” application is part of Porsche dealers’ revised websites and their Porsche Dealer 6.0 Toolkit, which includes 12 new marketing features. The Smart Scan technology is just one of them.Das Stimmt: Porsche is Ahead of the CurveAccording to the Ohio dealer, being ahead of the curve is nothing new for the German automaker. “Porsche is always cutting edge,” said Primm. “I think all OEMs will be soon to follow.” She also mentioned that all Porsche dealers have had mobile versions of their websites since 2008, long before the practice was mainstream.”We are implementing iPads in the showroom,” said Primm. “Porsche introduced iPods around Christmas, but we are transitioning to ‘the big screen’!” The Ohio dealer said that using iPads makes explaining vehicles accessories a lot easier for both the sales person and the customer.An article found at shoppingblog.com indicated that Porsche rolled out its mobile program in June, with just 11 dealers implementing it at that time. The next phase of 184 dealers, including Primm, is set to roll out in the near future. She has already pulled the OEM-provided handbook for the smart mobile tag portion of her new dealership website.What about the Moroney sticker?When asked whether the new mobile tag stickers would replace the Moroney sticker, Primm explained that they would merely accompany the federally mandated stickers, not replace them outright. The Smart Scan is solely for marketing purposes and does not comply with any federal laws; however, there are requirements for the size, font, and predominance of the text on the scan sticker.
Shopping goes MobileA recent study by Ogilvy stated that 77 percent of the technologically savvy in the U.S. are using their mobile devices to scan QR codes or bar codes while shopping. The study went on to show that the number of people who are transferring their purchasing habits from the computer to their mobile device is increasing at a rate much quicker than anticipated.Luxury OEMs are expected to be the first to integrate this technology. Primm said that by 2013, 50 percent of all users viewing their dealership website will be doing so via mobile device. “[The mobile tag program] may be fore the luxury brands today,” said Prim, “but it’ll be all brands tomorrow.” She’s right. It’s only a matter of time, looking at statistics such as those in Ogilvy’s recent white paper, before mobile tagging becomes as mainstream in marketing strategies as Twitter and Facebook.But while the trend seems to be moving toward making purchases from one’s mobile device, that’s where it gets tricky for the auto industry. Current stipulations for disclosure prevent them from selling a product without the customer seeing it in the flesh. “The actual purchase, or contracting, has so much federal and state regulations that it has to be done traditionally,” Primm explained.If it isn’t Broken…Regardless of the trends in technology, Primm’s 80-year-old father, Don, had a telling point. “You can still sell a car with a pencil and a piece of paper.”