Automotive VR: How is Virtual Tech Transforming Retail?
According to Goldman Sachs, the worldwide value of the VR industry could reach $80 billion by 2025. The automotive industry has always been proactive in finding the best ways to use new technology, and it is here that we can find some of the most novel uses of virtual reality. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from the innovative use of VR in the automotive industry…
“How can VR enrich our retail experience?”
Traditional car ads are pretty ubiquitous – we have all seen a virtual version of a glossy supercar speeding down a deserted highway, but now, we want to know: how can we use VR content to enrich our retail experience? If we want to take the next step in buying our very own hypercar or five-door hatchback, can a virtual reality car simulator help us take the plunge? With total dealership visits in the UK down by a staggering 15 million from 2010 to 2015, what are the VR trends taking over 2017 that can give retailers a sense of confidence back?
Total Creative Control
Consumers love the thrill of designing their dream car and VR is an ideal medium to support and encourage their enthusiasm. There’s always been the option to customise your prospective car online – particularly when it comes to trying out colour options – but with virtual reality, we’ll start to see that kind of customisation becoming a more personal, intuitive experience.
“VR enables clients to ‘step’ inside the car, before they commit to immortalising it in alloy and leather.”
Forget just swapping out red for shocking pink, or upgrading your plush racer seats to a gold-tipped car throne, virtual car showrooms enable clients to ‘step’ inside the car they want to buy and tweak the bits they’re not quite happy with, before they commit to immortalising it in alloy and leather. And, if prospective buyers want to spend more time with their customised demo, they can pick up a branded cardboard VR headset and watch it again and again.
An example of the potential for automotive VR experiences can be found in the innovative work being done at Jaguar. The pioneering brand has committed to VR for creating an experiential buzz around its new models. Jaguar has rolled out a VR experience featuring their new Land Rover Discovery to over 1,500 retailers across the world. Potential customers can don VR headsets and discover the all-new features of the Land Rover, in a 360 lifesize tour augmented by animation highlighting the vehicle’s all-new technical specs. This use of tech is a great way to tempt potential customers into the showroom, even if they initially have no intention of making a purchase. Cementing a brand as an innovator in the minds of customers is an invaluable tool for setting up a relationship that could last for years to come.
The Surrounding Showroom
It’s all well and good having a snazzy, customisable VR experience but if your consumers are simply in an outdated showroom, stood in a cupboard somewhere with a headset on, you’re not elevating their experience. With VR switching the automotive industry’s gears up a notch, the surrounding showroom is equally as important in the retail journey.
“75 percent of the customer’s car buying journey takes place online”
The automotive retail space is rapidly changing and, as we make our way into the second half of 2017, we’ll start to see even more of a shift towards the digital. Making the interior of your retail space match the tech you’re offering is an important part of the new customer journey. In fact, in our modern age, 75 percent of the customer’s car buying journey takes place online.
It’s no longer the job of a dealer to unveil new models to their potential clients – it’s up to them to offer something extra and provide an expert validation that customers can’t get anywhere else. As digital displays and touch screens begin to find a home in showrooms, giving customers even more tools to explore, the integrated and digitised showrooms are the ones which will find a long term place in the industry. Immersing your client in an interactive world, both in a headset and in-person, is a vital step to securing future business.
VR at Early Doors
Once virtual product tours become a more mainstream part of the customer journey, consumers could even see themselves consulted early on in the design process, before the beta supercar models even roll out of the manufacturing plant. Rather than customising a model once it’s out in the commercial space, automotive retailers could invite clients to comment on design schematics, or interior layouts, within the virtual space.
“Involving your potential consumers up front ultimately leads to more human-centred design”
Involving your potential consumers up front, ultimately leads to more human-centred design and provides a truly customisable experience, all from the comfort of a headset. As your customers are experiencing their potential new car in virtual reality, they could even interact with digital displays and provide feedback on how the next model could be improved, or how the experience could have been of more benefit to them. Real time customer feedback, in an engaging, interactive space could change the way we buy cars for good.
But when will we see virtual reality experiences rolled out across the globe as a commonplace addition to the showroom? Well, it’s still a little way off yet, but with big players like Jaguar, Audi and Lamborghini investing heavily, don’t be surprised if your next purchase comes with an up-front VR consultation.
Well, there you have it, virtual technology is transforming automotive retail. From letting the consumer take greater creative control – customising to their heart’s content, to letting dealerships be more flexible with their showrooms & helping to bridge the gap between physical and online buying habits, automotive VR is truly carving out its place in the retail sphere. And if you’re thinking about crafting your own VR experience or want to chat about how you could expand your virtual offering, get in touch.