The concept of shopping for a car online has become increasingly popular over the last several years. In 2018, only 1% of car buyers purchased their vehicle online, but this number increased to 10% by early last year. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of automotive consumers said they would consider purchasing their next vehicle online instead of in a dealership.
Buying a car online is not the same as buying clothing, shoes, books, or other items. Because a car is so expensive, consumers typically spend a lot of time in the early stages of the buying cycle. During these stages, consumers focus on researching their options so they can make an informed purchase decision.
For automotive consumers, the early stages of the buying cycle typically consists of visiting different auto showrooms to explore vehicles in-person. But if a consumer wants to purchase their vehicle online, they may worry that they will miss out on the chance to explore vehicles and learn more about their options.
Fortunately, automotive companies are now using augmented reality to improve the car shopping experience online. Thanks to this technology, automotive consumers who want to purchase their vehicle online can still get the showroom experience without ever stepping foot in an actual showroom.
How is Augmented Reality Used for Online Car Shopping?
Augmented reality is incredibly helpful to automotive consumers who want to shop for their vehicle online rather than in a dealership. Instead of visiting a showroom in-person, these consumers can use augmented reality technology to project three dimensional virtual vehicles into their real world environment.
They can choose to virtually place the vehicle in their driveway, on the road, in their garage, or even in the living room. The vehicle will appear true to scale, which means the virtual model will be the same size as the real vehicle. But users also have the option of adjusting the size to make the virtual model smaller or larger.
This technology gives consumers the opportunity to explore vehicles from home. Once the virtual model appears, consumers can explore the vehicle just like they would if they were in a real showroom. After examining the exterior, consumers can also take a closer look at the inside of the vehicle.
Thanks to augmented reality technology, consumers can finally get the automotive showroom experience at home. Even if they don’t plan on purchasing their vehicle online, this still allows them to research their options from home before heading to a dealership to make a purchase.
Other Examples of Augmented Reality Online Shopping Experiences
Automotive companies aren’t the only ones that are using augmented reality technology to improve the online shopping experience for consumers. A number of companies from outside the automotive industry are also taking advantage of this technology, including:
- Warby Parker
- Home Depot
Shopping for cosmetics online has not always been easy. It’s hard to tell what a specific color of lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, or foundation will look like once it’s applied. However, Sephora revolutionized the world of online cosmetics shopping with the introduction of its “Virtual Artist” feature on its mobile app in 2017.
This feature, which is powered by facial recognition and augmented reality technologies, allows consumers to virtually try on different cosmetics online. They can see what a specific shade of lipstick will look like on their lips, for example, before buying it. This allows consumers to shop for cosmetics online with confidence.
Sephora also uses augmented reality technology to teach consumers how to achieve certain looks. For example, the app may highlight a certain area of the consumer’s face to tell them exactly where to apply a specific product.
Launched in 2017, IKEA Place is an augmented reality app that allows consumers to see what specific IKEA products will look like in their home.
To get started, users simply need to take a picture of a room in their home. The app is designed to automatically measure the space and provide a list of recommended pieces of furniture based on these measurements.
If the user finds a product they like, they can virtually place the furniture in their room to see what it would like in their home. The furniture will appear true to scale, so users can make sure that it is the right size before buying it.
Nike’s app has been around for a long time, but an augmented reality feature known as Nike Fit was not added until 2019. Nike Fit is designed to help consumers figure out what size shoe they wear before making a purchase.
This app doesn’t just measure the length of the foot–it measures the entire shape of each foot to calculate the user’s shoe size. All the user needs to do is open the app and point their smartphone camera at their feet. Once a size is calculated, the user can choose to save this information in their profile so they don’t need to go through the same process again in the future.
The app may recommend different sizes for different styles of shoes. For example, if one shoe style runs slightly small, the app may recommend a larger size.
It’s hard to determine what style of glasses will look best on your face without trying them on, which is why shopping for glasses online has never been easy. However, Warby Parker solved this problem by developing an augmented reality app that allows users to try on glasses at home.
To begin, the user simply needs to select a pair of glasses from the Warby Parker app. Then, choose the “Virtual Try-On” feature. Selecting this option will automatically open the front-facing camera. The app will then project the glasses onto the user’s face so they can see what they would look like. The glasses will stay in the right position as the user moves around or turns their head so they can see what the frame will look like from every angle.
If the user wants a second opinion, they can even snap a photo of themselves wearing the glasses and send it to their friends or family for feedback.
Home Depot updated its app to include an augmented reality feature in late 2019. Thanks to this addition, the Home Depot app now allows users to see what different products will look like in their home, just like the IKEA Place app.
But IKEA only sells furniture and home decor, whereas Home Depot also sells appliances and other household goods. This means consumers can use the Home Depot app to see what a new refrigerator or washer and dryer will look like in their home. This feature makes it easy to find the perfect replacement for an old appliance or to map out kitchen remodels.
What Are the Benefits of Using Augmented Reality for Car Shopping?
There are many benefits to using augmented reality to assist with the online car shopping experience, including:
- Better Shopping Experience
Augmented reality makes the process of shopping for a car more convenient than ever before. It gives consumers the option to conduct comprehensive research on different vehicles without ever leaving home. It also allows consumers to get the showroom experience at any time, even if it’s outside of standard business hours.
In other words, now automotive consumers can start the process of shopping for a car whenever it is most convenient for them.
Better Shopping Experience
There’s no question that augmented reality technology has the power to improve the experience of shopping for a new car. This is true regardless of whether the consumer plans on purchasing the car online or in a dealership.
Either way, this technology can help automotive consumers research their options, explore different vehicles, and choose a vehicle that is right for them. If they plan on purchasing the vehicle online, they can move forward with the process with confidence knowing they have thoroughly researched their decision.
If they want to purchase the vehicle in-person, using augmented reality to conduct research from home will save them a lot of time once they arrive at the dealership. They will already know what vehicle they want when they arrive at the dealership, so they won’t need to waste time touring the showroom or talking to sales representatives about their options. All they will need to do is negotiate the price, fill out the appropriate paperwork, and complete the transaction.
Automotive consumers don’t need a fancy headset or special device in order to use augmented reality technology to shop for a vehicle online. All they need is access to a smartphone with a functional camera to get started. Because no other equipment is required, this augmented reality showroom experience is accessible to the vast majority of automotive consumers.
The benefits of using augmented reality to improve the online shopping experience are far too great to ignore, which is why this technology has exploded in popularity within the automotive industry. If you plan on purchasing or researching a vehicle online now or in the future, chances are that augmented reality will be a part of your car buying process.