The Coronavirus changed the world in a variety of ways, but one of the biggest impacts has been made in the virtual and immersive reality spheres. Retailers throughout the consumer services, commercial goods, and automotive sectors are relying on this technology to connect customers with brands from wherever everyone is located. To limit personal contact and keep business thriving, virtual reality is more important than ever before on the mainstream market.
The Audi virtual reality showroom is one example that shows the practical use of VR and immersive media in the automotive industry. From the time someone starts researching their chosen vehicle to the moment their purchase leaves the lot, virtual reality can give potential buyers more control than ever without requiring a visit to a brick-and-mortar car lot.
Using mobile technology, innovative projection elements, and smart connectivity – Audi is one of the leaders in this rapidly growing part of the automotive retail industry.
Read more about the Audi virtual reality showroom and how this luxury retailer could change the car sales sphere as we’ve known it – even after the pandemic no longer has an impact on the global marketplace.
What led to the use of virtual reality in Audi’s showrooms?
Audi has been using virtual reality technology in the shopping experience since 2016, but this capability has only grown in the current digital landscape. The leading retailer is using VR connectivity to design, manufacture, market, and sell cars in a new and innovative way.
When onsite showrooms closed around the world in 2020, this technology became more than just a way to attract tech-savvy consumers to the high-end brand. VR showroom technology allowed buyers and sellers to continue maintaining operations. This capability is also responsible for boosting in-house development by connecting designers, engineers, dealers, and decision-makers across the global corporation.
While Audi’s virtual reality showrooms have always incorporated a hybrid experience between onsite and remote features, shoppers have relied on this corner of the virtual world to explore and learn about emerging models with the same level of granularity of showing up to the dealership.
The deployment of real-time VR has made the shopping experience more accessible, without taking away the exclusivity and level of luxury the brand is known for. VR showroom technology has been used by Audi to facilitate:
- Virtual test driving
- Remote supply management
- Real-time customization
- Car delivery
- Instant product selection and quote comparison
- Access to an unlimited inventory
While physical dealerships are limited by the amount of physical space they can provide, virtual reality showrooms can house an infinite amount of individual SKUs – as well as limitless customization options from color to function to accessories and more.
Why is VR changing the Audi manufacturing and sales processes?
Audi is credited with producing the first completely functional VR experience in the dealership environment. Starting in Europe, this technology took the automotive world by storm and created a new culture surrounding digitization in large-scale retail.
Using VR in the sales and supply chain processes has provided customers and partners with a first-hand look at the inner workings of this global brand’s approach to innovation and accessibility. With just a VR headset, dealerships have expanded their product offerings and level of service to give customers a realistic but digitized look at the inventory, sourcing, materials, and functions provided by each individual car lot.
As we experienced during the pandemic, customization and technological innovation continue to reign as king throughout the entire automotive industry. But, limited access to physical car lots is just one problem that needed to be solved in order to keep auto sales high.
Since 2017, Audi has been perfecting this technology to give customers the ability to:
- Customize individual products
- Search through limitless inventories
- Expand their shopping experience from any connected location
- Dive into the minute functions of each product available
- Create the exact vehicle of their dreams, with their own hands
On the level of manufacturing and production, VR has changed the way automakers collaborate to create new models, perfect existing SKUs, and build new ideas in a fully digital workspace.
This type of technology has allowed dealers and retailers to significantly cut costs by reducing overhead tied to inventory management, onsite workspaces, and even physical equipment needed for modeling, testing, and merchandising.
By moving the entire dealership to the digital sphere, the possibilities are endless when it comes to:
- Variety and customization of existing inventory
- Simplicity of placing new orders
- Expanding office space without increasing overhead
- Building a sustainable showroom environment
Digitization is cheaper, more efficient, and often more effective than in-person tactics which provide the same results.
Additionally, Audi’s use of VR in the dealership has reduced error margins by utilizing automation and machine learning to perfect the sales process.
By applying customer data to personalized the shopping experience, virtual reality can cut hours from each individual consumer’s vehicle search process. In just a matter of minutes, someone can customize a potential purchase to their chosen specifications while navigating through the sales process using smart, AI-generated prompts and solutions.
Instead of spending hours walking up and down a vast car lot to find the right model, with the right specifications, it’s possible to quickly browse through hundreds (or thousands) of options at your fingertips.
How is VR used to visualize new products?
Typically, innovation in automotive has been tied to extensive testing and analysis of physical prototypes and new releases. This method is expensive, wasteful, and dependent on a wide range of unpredictable factors that can occur during any cycle.
Virtual reality has allowed auto brands such as Audi to test, analyze, assess, and fix new vehicles before they ever hit the market. Using detailed manipulation of digital renders and simulating those parts in realistic virtual environments, the manufacturing and testing processes can be completed in an entirely digital world.
With VR design capabilities, specialists and engineers can create new vehicles from anywhere, at any time. Not only has this opened up an entirely new culture of workplace flexibility and corporate stability, but it’s made it possible to drive brand growth in a previously limited industry.
Whether designers are working from home, shared office spaces, or the showroom – they can collaborate in real-time using virtual tools and file-sharing options. Additionally, the growth of secure cloud storage allows individuals to communicate and transfer files, images, renders, and more in an entirely digital work environment.
Removing human testing and physical prototypes has also saved automotive giants millions in production costs, as each individual trial would typically require a new set of equipment. Cutting down on these materials, while eliminating the need for human testing in self-contained environments, has made the production process cheaper and safer from start to finish.
When it comes to creating new models, virtual reality has simplified the ideation and creativity parts of the production line like never before. Instead of meticulously changing physical prototypes to meet designer specifications, engineers and testing specialists can simultaneously work on digital prototypes and revise the information as often, or as frequently, as needed.
From design elements like shapes and colors to functionalities in the cab and motor, VR facilitates an open environment where each collaborator can work on any element of a vehicle for as long or as detailed as necessary until the capability is up to par.
Is virtual reality impacting Audi’s home-based sales?
In short, virtual reality has allowed Audi’s customers to see the future of the automotive industry in real-time. No matter where they’re starting to conduct their vehicle search, they can visit a virtual dealership just as easily as before. But, with this new development, they can ensure that more control rests in their own hands instead of the salespeople who are running the car lot.
By allowing consumers to lead the way, VR has positively impacted Audi’s home-based sales and onsite sales that involve immersive VR technology.
Virtual and augmented reality technology is more accessible for consumers than ever, and it’s now possible to access these capabilities with just a mobile phone or user-owned device.
While Audi is still utilizing VR technology to enhance the in-store experience, the same innovation is revamping the at-home shopping experience for the brand’s consumers.
Interest in at-home auto shopping reached all-time highs during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. While many consumers would still prefer to handle at least part of the buying process onsite, more and more shoppers are opting for virtual reality solutions to speed up the process, cut back on time spent comparing models and quotes, and eliminate the need for assistance by an in-person sales representative.
Virtual test driving, real-time customization, and access to an endless inventory are just a few reasons why VR dealerships are appealing to the average consumer.
Furthermore, VR connectivity has changed the way auto brands advertise to their target audiences – improving conversion rates and reducing returns at the same time.
VR technology is still in the beginning stages, and there are a few hitches in the process that are turning off mainstream consumers. Some issues include:
- 26% of consumers claimed poor user experience (through bulky equipment, glitches, bugs, and more) is hindering the process
- 24% of consumer cited low content availability as a hindrance to mainstream adoption
- 10% of consumers are worried about rising costs associated with VR technology
- 13% of consumers feel limited by VR regulations and related legal issues
However, with more than half of the younger consumer base showing some interest in virtual reality technology, auto brands like Audi are seeing positive trends surrounding consumer adoption and acceptance of VR.
Immersing customers into targeted ads, providing personalized information using machine learning, and allowing buyers to lead their own shopping processes is bringing VR to the forefront of the automotive industry.
As adoption rates and consumer opinions surrounding VR continue to grow, we’re sure to see even more virtual reality capabilities and functions throughout the entire at-home buying process.
Which tech innovators are involved with the Audi virtual reality showroom?
The gaming industry continues to be the top provider for VR demand in the mainstream marketplace, but automotive is following closely. As a result, there is a considerable amount of overlap among top tech innovators across multiple spheres and specializations.
Around the world, these continue to be the top brands in VR technology across the board:
- Robert Bosch GmbH
Virtual reality companies are popping up in droves to respond to the influx in consumer and corporate demand for simplified, accessible VR access.
Audi, in particular, also utilizes proprietary technology to provide streamlined innovation to their consumers. Germany-based startup holoride has been a leader in the advent of dealership and in-car VR experiences.
The virtual reality experience facilitated by holoride can transform driving for everyone inside of Audi’s suite of luxury vehicles. From entertainment to safety features and beyond, VR is effectively transforming the way drivers, pedestrians, and even businesses interact with each other on the road.
When it comes to technological advancements in the automotive sphere, virtual reality is a hot-button topic that continues to generate buzz year after year. From the time a shopper searches for a potential vehicle purchase to the moment they put their key into the ignition, virtual reality has the potential to remove time, money, and stress from the entire equation.
By simplifying the shopping experience, streamlining automotive manufacturing, and even enhancing the in-car atmosphere – Audi is making a name for itself as a tech giant within the luxury car sphere.
The Audi virtual reality showroom continues to be the pioneering service that is effectively changing the automotive industry as we’ve always known it. As we become more accustomed to VR technology in the consumer retail sector, we’re sure to see more of this brand’s strategic developments for years to come.