How is VR Technology Changing Car Shopping Process?
What is the utmost goal of a car producer or dealer? The answer is obvious – to sell products and to be ahead of competitors. Cost reduction and customer satisfaction are also a good reason to look for effective tools for car selling.
Automotive industry trends for sales also suggest the need in effective selling tools. Various sources of information say that forecasts are changing – just a couple of years ago the projected number of annually sold cars was 20 million by 2018. But according to Statista data, the projected light vehicle sales in the United States look different – 17.8 million in 2016, 17.4 million in 2017, 16.5 million in 2018, 17.3 million in 2019, and a bit more in 2020 – 17.6 million. Global car sales are predicted to come to around 103.5 million units. The data indicate that the situation get worse. And this hints the auto dealers to look for the ways fostering sales, such as virtual reality car dealerships.
Are there any ways to create positive dealership experience?
In 2016, the Consumer Automotive Index, a national survey, conducted online by Harris Poll revealed that 87 % of American adult shoppers dislike something about the process of purchasing a vehicle at a traditional car dealership. People are fed up with old-fashioned style, in which the traditional dealers deal with customers when selling cars.
The key findings of the survey show that:
People feel anxious or uncomfortable when visiting a car dealership;
People dislike negotiation with a car dealer, especially aggressive selling;
Women fell more pressured by salespeople to buy a car right away;
All the surveyed feel they waste time, 54% would buy or sell a car without leaving home, and 42% would be comfortable to buy a car online without a test drive provided that they’d be given some assurances (such as money-back guarantee and the like).
The fact is the dealers still fail to meet the needs and expectations of customer experience of average consumer. 72% of customers would visit car dealerships more often if the process of buying a car was improved. Customer centricity is the point appreciated by most of people who want to buy or sell a car. This customer centricity can be reached using various tools, including IT tools. V12 Data states that “more than 70% of younger millennials cite technology and infotainment features as “must-haves” when purchasing a car”.
Taking into consideration the fact that 89% of consumers look for vehicle information online, we can say that various integrated mobile apps, including VR app for car dealership, online platforms, pricing and information websites and other digital channels (video marketing, online reviews and so on) can be a source of positive customer experience and can become sales drivers of future car dealership. Even actual showrooms are undergoing the process of transformation into digital market places equipped with automotive VR capabilities.
Customer centricity is the trend that came to stay. And car dealers can use virtual reality technology in dealerships to attract more satisfied customers and to foster sales.
Virtual Reality Car Showrooms – Examples
VR technology is gaining momentum in many industries, and it’s no wonder VR in automotive industry is becoming popular too. Car manufacturers are trying to use both virtual reality and augmented reality technology to deliver the best vehicles to consumers. According to Digi-Capital, the augmented/virtual reality forecasted revenue is to hit $120 billion by 2020. The Car Infortainment Systems and developing apps for them is also a growing market which is projected to exceed $35 billion by 2020.
Car dealers also take the advantage of AR/VR technology to deliver higher quality services and improve customer experience. Traditionally when you want to buy a new car you start exploring the market and visiting care dealerships. Very often there are very few models displayed there and the number of colors and additional features is very limited.
Now try to imagine you’ve got a quality VR headset and can customize any feature or model of the car you want to buy. Or you can get every technical detail you want to know about your future car. Or even sit at the driver’s seat and make a virtual ride. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Using VR technology and apps developed for a dealer almost every showroom can become a virtual reality car showroom at that it won’t cost a car dealer a fortune. Let us look at some of VR showrooms already introduced in the market.
Audi is the brand which is rolling out this technology to equip its virtual showrooms. One of good examples is the Audi virtual showrooms in London. These showrooms display only some actual car models and the relevant buying information is shown on video screens which can be navigated using gestures. The capabilities of virtual reality allow customers to have a 360-degree look inside and outside the car, open doors and even listen to how their potential new car sounds.
Vroom has created a virtual reality showroom to showcase the available assortment that allows users to view car models from the comfort of their home. The service uses HTC Vive technology to review and even test drive cars.
BMW also uses VR technology to create virtual reality cars tours allowing customers to get the feel of new cars and to choose a car configuration. The company also uses VR apps to present brand new models – such as new X2 crossover SUV was “brought in” to the desert with virtual reality at CES 2018. BMW also offers various apps for virtual and augmented reality designed for the cars of the German automaker. According to the automaker, using these apps you can “create your own personal BMW i3 or i8 simply by moving your fingers”. The apps allow you to select the exterior and interior, open doors, switch on the light. The apps also provide access the online configurator directly and can arrange a test drive.
Toyota used ZeroLight-powered VR technology as a tool of pre-marketing activity to virtually launch their new C-HR car. In partnership with HTC, the company created the highly detailed, configurable car appears in virtual reality. To showcase the car at 1:1 size the Vive's room-scale capability was used enabling users to walk around and interact with the car to explore its features.
Virtual Reality of Future Car Shopping – Pros and Cons of Building Specialized Apps
The examples of automotive giants hint us that virtual reality is a game changer in the industry. The biggest pro to build a solution for a car dealership is the availability and affordability of high-performance, easily wearable VR headsets, such as Oculus, HTC, Sony, Samsung, and Google. According to some estimates global VR headset shipments will reach 61 million by 2020.
Another pro is the consumers’ willingness to visit stores where VR/AR technology is used. Dealer Marketing Magazine states that 80% of the future purchasing generation (i.e. the people who are 13 to 17 years old now) tend to visit stores that offer interactive experiences via AR and VR technologies.
The third pro is the cost reduction of a car dealership – you’ll need less floor space, shop assistants and car models displayed in the showroom in actual life.
And the fourth pro is the improved customer experience. VR showroom apps give customers a chance to make more informed decisions and to get the information about their possible new cars while staying at home. They give customers an ability to virtually sit inside a car, observe its exterior, get the information about is technical details and select the necessary options. After getting the information they need, buyers can visit a dealership and see a vehicle in the metal or even buy the car they liked without leaving home.
What are the cons? The cons are also visible. You’ll need a high-quality content, such as 360-degree imaging for every car you sell. It can be costly, especially in the US. The development costs also should be taken into consideration though you can decrease your development costs by means of outsourcing.
How to Develop VR Car Showroom App?
If you decided to develop your own VR car showroom app, you have to define what exactly your app will do. VR solution development process usually consists of the following stages:
Concept development, including the app architecture
App development and creation of content
Testing & QA
The team, which develops such apps, consists of developers experienced in the relevant VR technologies and platforms, artists (2D and 3D), animators, VR content producers, and QA engineers. Depending on the app complexity and features the development process can take 3 to 6 months or more.
Moreover, there is a variety of available VR platforms, such as Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Sony PlayStation VR, and you have to know the benefits of each so you can choose the one that will allow fit your needs the best in terms of performance and video and graphics quality.
Summing up, VR solution development can become a challenge if you don’t have your own IT specialists. But it can be a smooth road to success if you cooperate with the development company having deep expertise in the automotive apps domain. Archer Software is a professional development agency with a deep expertise in creating IT solutions for the automotive industry, including car manufactures such as Renault and Volvo. Our specialists will be happy to answer any questions you have concerning automotive VR apps development. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.