DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. is arming its dealers with a new iPad app designed to improve the customer experience. The app will be used by Ford sales associates, who will be able to access key inventory and product information from anywhere on a dealer’s lot.

Called the SHOWCASE app, the tool was designed to help deliver Ford dealers deliver an Apple experience, where salespeople can easily access key information to answer customer questions or to locate specific vehicles. Ford officials said the company began exploring the use of the Apple iPad in its dealerships in early 2011. To view the new SHOWCASE app in action, visit the link below:

“Waiting for the sales consultant to check the inventory or wandering the aisles of a car lot in search of just the right combination of colors and options can be a tedious and time-consuming process,” said Michelle Moody, cross vehicle marketing manager for Ford. “If the weather is bad or the sun has gone down early in the winter months, venturing outside is even less appealing.

In recent years, customers have become accustomed to using various shopping tools to configure and compare vehicles on the website. The new SHOWCASE app links this experience to the showroom, giving sales associates new technology to determine what features a customer wants and to immediately check inventory to see which vehicles in stock most closely match those needs.

“We had tried using kiosks in the showroom to enable customers to check out our vehicles and features, but many customers were not as comfortable using these on their own,” Moody said.

Using the new SHOWCASE app running on an iPad, the salesperson can sit with the customer to pick out the model that person wants, then filter the selection based on trim level, colors, equipment and price. The app then displays all the vehicles in stock that match the customer’s criteria, including a list of all the equipment installed on each vehicle.

“I have to say it has never been easier finding the right vehicle,” said Maxx Springman, a customer who recently bought a new Escape from All-American Ford in Old Bridge, N.J. “I can’t believe we were able to build the exact Escape I was looking for right there at the salesman’s desk.”

The SHOWCASE app provides instant access to information and videos about a specific vehicle feature, including Ford SYNC and MyFord Touch. Using the app, the salesperson can quickly demonstrate features like collision warning with brake support, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) or Lane-Keeping System, which may not be easy to show off during a test drive.

If the customer needs time to consider or discuss the purchase with his or her significant other, the sales associate can email the information on the specific vehicles in stock directly to the customer.

“Customers don’t like to wait while the salesperson walks away to check inventory,” said Rich Savino, owner of All-American Ford, a participant in the pilot program. “The SHOWCASE app helps to create a more intimate experience; it lets customers see what is available instantly and make adjustments if they don’t find what they are looking for.”

The SHOWCASE app was developed by Ford and user interface design specialists Razorfish over a period of several months in 2011. A pilot group of 14 Ford dealers participated in defining the app and then testing it beginning in November 2011. Open registration for all Ford dealers began on Aug. 1, 2012 and nearly 200 dealers have already signed up to use the new app.

Recently, the Build and Price section of was enhanced to give customers the ability to save their builds. Ford is also working on a number of future enhancements for the Showcase app including the ability for the sales associate to retrieve custom builds previously saved by the customer and then automatically search inventory to find vehicles that match the customer’s needs.