Automotive VR: How is Virtual Tech Transforming Retail?
With Goldman Sachs predicting the value of the VR industry reaching $80 billion around the world by 2025 and a chunk of that carved out for the automotive industry, future thinking retailers are starting to think about the best way they can utilise virtual tech.
“How can VR enrich our retail experience?”
We’ve seen virtual joy rides, we know what a virtual version of your favourite supercar looks like speeding along a deserted highway but now, we want to know how can VR content enrich our retail experience. If we want to take the next step to buying our very own hypercars or five-door hatchbacks, 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 back a role?
Total Creative Control
First things first, giving consumers complete creative control of their car is something which VR content lends itself perfectly to doing. There’s been the option online to customise your car for quite some time now, in a dazzling array of colours, 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 they want to take their customised demo home, they can pick up a branded cardboard VR headset and watch it again and again. Much like Jaguar did recently, where customers could customise to their hearts content in virtual form, it shows the scope for giving back more creative control to consumers.
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It’s all well and good having a snazzy, customisable VR experience but if your consumers are simply in an outdated showroom, stood in a cupboard somewhere with a headset on, you’re not elevating their experience.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 or 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, 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 a world they can interact with, both in their headset and at their fingertips, 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 earlier on in the design process, before the beta supercar models have even rolled out of the manufacturing plant, factory fresh. 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 ways off the mainstream but with big players like Jaguar, Audi and Lamborghini investing heavily in it, 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.