As we all navigate through the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the closure of non-essential businesses, including car dealerships. This may have temporarily thrown a wrench in the plans of those whose lease was ending or those immediately due for a new vehicle. The act of social distancing is more important now than ever, and as we commit to staying home and safe, there are ways to use this time to still properly prepare for future vehicle purchases. In fact, the ability to use virtual and augmented reality to change the entire car shopping experience, right from home, is huge.
The New Stay at Home Process
The history of the car dealership goes back over 100 years, and despite the huge advancements we have seen in vehicle technology, the customer’s car buying journey has remained largely unchanged up until now. According to a recent study by Cox Automotive, 83% of consumers want to do one or more steps of the car purchase process online and 7 out of 10 are more likely to buy from a dealership if they could start the process online. As these shopping habits show just how significant the online process has become, utilizing new technologies will significantly help cater to the needs of us staying at home right now.
During self-isolation, the way consumers are able to educate themselves on potential vehicles ahead of time is crucial to cutting down time spent on the dealer lot once they do open back up. These consumers are already using platforms like third-party automotive websites, and the likes of Google and YouTube to research their next car and begin the process online. These customers rely on the internet to keep them informed, and now, there is great opportunity to offer even more informative ways to shop for cars.
The Wonders of a Virtual Showroom
For those not as familiar with the difference between the two, virtual reality uses a headset or mobile device to create a fully immersive 3D experience. Augmented reality places digital images onto a user’s view of the real world, most often through a smartphone. Both VR and AR create digital worlds that take the user on a journey, whether they are playing a game or shopping.
And when it comes to car shopping, simply just looking at images of cars online ahead of a dealership visit is no longer going to cut it. Consumers will want to view vehicles features up close, examine every angle, and truly experience a potential car before purchase. With virtual and augmented reality technologies, this process is entirely disrupted — for the better.
By using virtual reality car shopping technology, consumers can view 360° views of any car they are interested in, right from their homes. These views include interior and exteriors shots, and can be accessed from mobile phones, tablets, or even simply through a website.
With this simple step added, users are transported to that virtual car showroom, completely transforming how they view and interact with potential cars and turning research into a full experience, rather than just a basic process with standard imagery or video. Apps such as RelayCars are already offering these services, including thousands of stereoscopic vehicle views. In fact, a high-quality VR library of assets is essential to helping out customers who cannot go to the dealer right now, and ultimately changing the future of car shopping as we know it.
And it doesn’t stop at VR. With augmented reality technology, users can project and view a potential car from their phone straight into their living room or driveway, viewing it in a real-life setting within moments. Even just 10 or 15 years ago, this type of research taking place before ever stepping foot on a dealership lot was unheard of. This process brings the dealership to the customer during a time when they cannot leave home.
Think of how many steps there are once you arrive onsite at the dealership – there’s the initial viewing of vehicles, a test drive portion, paperwork, price negotiation, and even more. With the ability to use virtual and augmented reality to view vehicles right from home, customers are now entering a whole new world. These processes help customers to optimize time then spent on the dealer lot, and create a way to be respectful of not only their time, but the dealer’s time too.
Once you are able to finally get behind the wheel of a car for a test drive, any questions you had during this research phase will immediately start to be answered, making this process truly come full circle.
Researching your future car doesn’t have to take a back seat while physical dealer locations are closed. In fact, proper preparation through AR and VR is key to changing the future of the overall dealership experience as we know it. Once lots open back up, the days of spending hours upon hours at a car dealership will be behind us.
RelayCars is available online and for download at the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
The potential of virtual and augmented reality car shopping is vast, whether a car shopper is exploring the latest models in their living room or being guided through a virtual tour of a vehicle’s features in the showroom. However, to fully harness the possibilities of virtual reality car shopping, it is essential to choose the best applications and assets to build flexible, functional virtual showrooms. By partnering with pioneers in automotive VR technology, such as RelayCars and EVOX, dealers can ensure they have the resources they need to create compelling VR experiences.
EVOX® Images offers the largest automotive virtual reality library, available for consumers to view through the RelayCars app. Contact our team or call us at 310-605-1400 to learn more about our innovative imaging solutions.