How VR Has Changed Content Creation and Consumption
Perhaps since humankind began exploring its innate ability to create, the desire arose to craft an entirely interactive reality outside of our physical, earthly realm. In the early days, usually this would end up as some sort of depiction of reality with varying levels of accuracy, depending on the individual recreating what they experienced or saw. Virtual reality just might be the closest thing we have to such an ability in this day and age, and it’s being used for a variety of purposes, especially in the content creation and consumption world. But what is virtual reality, really? Old school definitions pegged VR as computer-generated simulations of three-dimensional images and environments, images and environments which can be interacted with in what feels like a real, visceral way. Over the decades, the vehicle for VR has generally been electronic equipment of varying complexities — helmets, headsets, and even gloves with customized sensors. VIRTUAL REALITY HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE THE 50S VR has made an undeniable impact in many different industries as it has been applied, especially in the ways that people create and consume content. But the true beginnings of virtual reality are often disputed. Although VR might be thought of as new technology, early virtual reality technology was actually invented in 1957 by Morton Heilig. Heilig created a multimedia device (called the Sensorama) which is now considered one of the earliest VR systems made available, except back in those days the term “Virtual Reality” had not been coined yet. Much later, in 1987, researcher Jaron Lanier called this technology “Virtual Reality”, a name which has obviously had staying power. VR hardware and content creation has also gotten more intuitive and pragmatic as time has gone on. VR has already been used in major motion pictures like Ready Player One and John Wick, and virtual reality has proven to be helpful in production, direction, and audience consumption. New technologies like face-tracking and other types of sensors and tracking are continuing to help content creators achieve what seems impossible. How VR Has Changed Content Creation and Consumption [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/virtual-reality.jpg] Since its inception, virtual reality has been a medium which empowers a vast array of creative-minded individuals to challenge (and altogether change) the way we experience art. What started first as three dimensional video games has now transcended video game consoles and headsets, breaking new ground into other areas of expression. With VR technology, artists and art brokers can now craft immersive exhibitions which take place entirely in virtual reality, which helps artists both show and sell artworks without experiencing time and geographical constraints. Virtual reality is helping more and more artists reach more and more people while driving consumer engagement with each virtual experience. Those who are interested in VR might also immerse themselves in an IMAX-style moviegoing experience from the comfort of their own home to amazing effects. Virtual reality technology is being packaged more and more for the average consumer, instead of the intensely tech-savvy. Eventually, VR might even task itself with making the viewer a part and central character of movies themselves as technology continues to evolve. VR: NOT JUST FOR ENTERTAINMENT We all know how VR has impacted video games and the entertainment industry, but virtual reality is not limited to these two fields. As a matter of fact, VR has changed the way most industries do what they do. The medical industry is utilizing VR technology to help plan and practice complex procedures, to help patients with pain and trauma management, and to even “print” various living tissues. VR can help surgeons improve their skills and explore human biology in entirely new ways. VR and the health and wellness industries will continue to evolve in tandem as industry leaders continue to think outside the box and really investigate how VR can be used to help humankind as a whole instead of simply using VR to provide distraction and entertainment. Those who experience PTSD are turning to virtual reality for therapeutic purposes. VR is able to help create new experiences for traumatized individuals while helping them explore the incidents that created trauma in the first place. The automotive industry is providing new VR content that helps consumers hop inside a vehicle and even take it for a test drive… all from the comfort of one’s own home. The real estate industry is also utilizing VR technology to provide contactless immersive tours in order to help consumers make more informed decisions. Online gambling is another industry that VR is set to change dynamically. Online gambling sites have an interest in creating immersive gaming environments for those who gamble online, which will help online gaming compete with brick and mortar casinos in Vegas and Atlantic City. VR technology is being used to bring the upscale casino straight to you. VIRTUAL REALITY AND CONTENT CREATION We already know that virtual reality has a place in the video game world. We now have VR headsets that can take us to new realms with starkly real circumstances and stimulation. Devices used for virtual reality continue to change, evolve, and become more streamlined. Film festivals across the globe are now incorporating VR technology into their screenings and events. Sundance showcased a VR film called “Spheres” in 2018, raising the important point that films and other modes of storytelling are social experiences while being introspective at the same time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, VR has helped film festivals go online in order to continue with their operations. Smartphones have also had an indelible impact on content creation, consumption, as well as virtual reality as a whole. With the advent of social media, we’ve found that movies and TV shows are as much personal experiences as they are communal experiences, and VR is set to help bridge the gap between making movies and stories happen on the screen and in real life. Down the road, we might even be purchasing smartphones that incorporate VR technology themselves, at which point headsets will no longer be necessary. Film and TV execs across the globe are trying to find a way to create content that transcends the large and small screen and provides supplemental information and content available on all smartphone brands. Instead of telling people to turn off their phones in movie theaters, the entertainment industry might start pushing the idea of keeping your smartphone on and in front of you for an entire cinematic experience. How VR Has Changed Content Creation and Consumption [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/VR-potential.jpg] Marketing experts have also mined VR potential to dramatic results. Businesses, brands, and influencers are turning to virtual reality to help better connect with consumers. Not only are marketers creating content that can be viewed on VR headsets, but social media platforms are utilizing filters to overlay pictures and other objects/content over images and videos. Filters available on social media outlets like Instagram are categorized as augmented reality (AR), which is a type of virtual reality that allows users to overlay content and images onto what they capture in the real world. AR and VR are working hand-in-hand to make the world around us (and the sources of entertainment we seek) more interesting and interactive. Just like with the entertainment industry, all of the industries mentioned above have a vested interest in keeping consumers interested, engaged, and having interactions with businesses, brands, and each piece of individual content that is consumed. Virtual reality is a fantastic way to connect and keep audiences engaged for long periods of time. VR AND HOW WE CONSUME CONTENT It’s pretty much agreed upon nowadays that those watercooler moments of yesteryear when people would discuss content in the form of TV shows, movies, news, books, and more on Mondays during work breaks are over. Instead, people can share their thoughts, input, ideas, satisfaction and dissatisfaction over a said piece of content pretty much instantly via social media and smartphone apps/technology. Marketers and top brass executives have noticed that with the advent of smartphones many consumers tend to interact with their phones while they’re experiencing content. How VR Has Changed Content Creation and Consumption [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/content-creators.jpg] As VR continues to create increasingly believable alternate realities, content creators are aware that visual and audio cues have to work in tandem to create this powerful sense of “new reality” or else consumers are not going to believe in whatever virtual reality is presented to them. Image and video technology continues to evolve with VR and so does 3D audio that creates as close to a natural listening experience as possible in the consumer. Now when consumers view a vlog, for instance, they can now be fully immersed in whatever environment they are presented with, giving a sense that the viewer is experiencing the event right there with the content creator. Moving forward, VR will continue to set its aim on capturing all of the human senses. Down the road, it’s not unreasonable to envision a virtual reality experience that incorporates sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound, which will help those involved in virtual reality create a more immersive and convincing virtual experience. As VR technology continues to evolve, the ways we craft and consume content will continue to change as well.
Imagining a Virtual World: Step Inside a Virtual Reality Car Dealership
Virtual reality might have once been considered futuristic, but today it’s a growing technology used by businesses and the entertainment world to provide a unique vantage point to consumers. Virtual reality headsets are offered at varying price points and with unique features, and platforms like Steam offer many downloadable virtual reality games. AR Insider projected that virtual reality revenues would soar to more than $14 billion by 2023, a figure encompassing the expanse of the technology (consumer, software, hardware, etc.). Virtual reality might be the future. Could consumers soon experience virtual reality stores or perhaps virtual reality car dealerships? Get ready to imagine a virtual world, and explore hypothetical virtual reality car dealerships. THE VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM Virtual car showrooms are popular for consumers starting their car buying hunt online. These showrooms allow consumers to see a scaled image of a vehicle and explore its different features. Different virtual experiences might have different features. For example, RelayCars lets users change the vehicle’s paint color, rotate the vehicle for a different viewpoint and look inside the car at the interior features. Exploring cars virtually also doesn’t necessarily require the user to have access to a virtual reality headset. Instead the showroom could be accessible via an app or online. The ‘virtual’ of this experience refers to the setting. Users see the vehicle in three-dimensions, and can interact with the vehicle using a mouse or fingertips (for apps). However, RelayCars also offers a Room-Scale app that can be downloaded via Steam. This app allows the user to interact with a vehicle in a virtual room, accessible via a headset. The app is compatible with Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest headsets. This type of virtual experience is extremely immersive and could be how a consumer imagines virtual car dealerships. Virtual Reality Car Dealership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Virtual-Shopping.jpg] VIRTUAL SHOPPING The internet is virtual in that it isn’t a physical presence. Consumers aren’t interacting face-to-face with a salesperson or the products being offered. Any question or inquiry that a shopper might have during their online browsing might be answered by a virtual sales assistant. Many consumers are familiar with the little pop up box displayed at the bottom of a website that is the portal for a virtual chat or virtual assistance. Some websites or businesses automatically send a message virtually when a new individual lands on the page. In-person shopping means physically interacting with the products or services. Consumers look through racks of clothes, try on favorites, touch fabrics. When shopping for a new automobile, they will walk through a car showroom, opening doors, sitting in the seat and exploring features. Physical interaction may be a key aspect of the experience. Online is different, however. When shopping online, consumers scroll through their options, clicking on their favorites to learn more. Virtual car shopping isn’t different. Scrolling is the same as walking through aisles of cars. However, pictures don’t allow for much interaction, and this may be why virtual showrooms surged in popularity. With virtual and augmented reality showrooms, the consumer can interact with a scaled representation of the vehicle of their choice . Augmented reality apps or platforms usually allow for the vehicle to be dropped in a real world environment, while virtual reality showroom apps showcase the car in a virtual world or backdrop. Again, virtual experiences could be available online and require no special headsets or glasses. Others might be fully immersive and can only be accessed while wearing a headset. Just how popular is online shopping? According to Statista, more than $4.2 trillion in sales came from the internet (e.g. e-commerce). This number represents worldwide sales, and the site notes that, in 2023, e-commerce will represent nearly a quarter (22 percent) of sales across the globe. Covid likely led to an increase of online buying for some sectors (groceries!), as many consumers didn’t want to visit the stores. In addition, many stores deemed non essential might have closed during the pandemic. Making purchases from these businesses might have required consumers to go online. However, Big Commerce reported that, in general, online shopping didn’t necessarily see a huge spike during Covid. Again, online grocery sales did increase, and medical, cleaning and baby products also were popular online purchases. Clothing purchases, however, dropped. Tools, auto, jewelry/luxury and several others also showed decreased online sales per BigCommerce. Virtual Reality Car Dealership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Virtual-Stores-and-Virtual-Car-Dealerships.jpg] VIRTUAL STORES AND VIRTUAL CAR DEALERSHIPS While figures for online shopping might have been mixed during Covid, the idea of shopping online and shopping beyond bricks and mortar might have become a more ingrained habit for some. The hesitancy of shopping in-store combined with stores that were closed completely to foot traffic might have led shoppers online. Some consumers were faced with a unique situation during Covid in that they needed to purchase a new car. Normally, shopping for a new car might have meant visiting a few dealerships and walking through the lot. During the pandemic, though, some dealerships might have been closed to shoppers. The only option might have been shopping online. As virtual reality and virtual experiences replaced in-person experiences during the pandemic (even work and school were virtual), could virtual experiences soon become the norm? Will there be a rise of virtual stores and dealerships? The future of virtual is still a question mark, yet the rise of self-driving cars is on the horizon. It might not be a stretch to think that in the future the shopping experience—even for cars—could go virtual, too. Virtual car dealerships could be designed a bit like virtual car showrooms. The virtual experience could be accessible via an online site (without any special headsets or glasses) or may be more immersive and require that shoppers download an app and use a headset to enter the virtual realm. Currently, many dealerships may offer virtual assistants who chat with online customers about their preferences or answer any questions. A virtual car dealership could include salesperson avatars who interact virtually with shoppers. The experience could include both a virtual showroom and a virtual lot. Imagine walking around a virtual car lot and exploring different makes and models. Shoppers may be able to virtually sit in the car and play with the unique features of the vehicle. What about used car sales, however? Hosting a virtual showroom or car lot for used cars could be a bit more complicated. For example, some used cars might have scratches or imperfections in the interior. The virtual vehicles would need to be all-inclusive of these details. Could technology fully replicate such intricate imperfections? In the future, virtual car dealerships might be relegated to those that sell new makes and models, as these would likely be easiest to replicate in virtual reality. Perhaps the whole shopping experience takes place virtually, and maybe users could upload financial data via a secure site online. There really are so many possibilities, but there are also so many details that would need to be perfected for the entire car shopping experience to exist in a virtual realm. The unique features of virtual reality, though, could allow for a more personalized shopping experience, especially for buyers who want to customize their vehicle. While the in-person experience of buying a new car can let the shopper see and touch different features, not every detail can be seen on the lot. Virtual experiences, though, could be inclusive of all the options available for the make and model. So perhaps the buyer can change out the color of the paint, switch out the tires or even upload a different interior fabric. A virtual experience could be more accommodating to visualizing a vehicle. And the virtual car dealership could be a much more immersive and entertaining shopping option. Consumers also could explore different virtual dealerships without leaving their home. Technology could evolve for a more laid-back process. CAR SHOPPING VIRTUALLY….TODAY While virtual reality car dealerships don’t yet exist, shoppers can access virtual reality car showrooms. Visiting a virtual platform could be one of the first steps during car shopping to help decrease the time spent at the dealership. Consumers could use sites like RelayCars to explore different makes and models. After finding the top choices, shoppers can then search local dealerships for pricing, deals and incentives. Shopping and browsing online can help simplify the car buying process and save time…and gas money. For consumers at home and in need of a new car, virtual experiences can be downloaded on phones or tablets. Some experiences might require a headset, but many apps can be experienced without any special accessories. Ready to find the perfect car? Download RelayCars via the app store (for Apple) or Google Play (for Android). 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The Many Uses of Virtual Reality in Cars
Embracing new technologies is one of the keys to success in highly competitive industries such as the automotive industry. Automotive companies must continue to find new ways to implement exciting technologies in order to set themselves apart from their competitors and meet their consumers’ demands. One technology that has been widely used in the automotive industry is virtual reality. This technology transports users to a simulated environment where they are free to interact with and explore their virtual surroundings. Virtual reality is often associated solely with the gaming world, but it has countless other applications outside of this industry. In fact, there are many different ways in which automotive manufacturers can use virtual reality in cars, including: IN-CAR ENTERTAINMENT Most modern vehicles are designed with in-car infotainment systems, which provide different types of information and entertainment to passengers. But in the future, virtual reality technology may take in-car entertainment to a whole new level. In 2019, the first public demo of in-car virtual reality entertainment was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show. The “Rocket’s Rescue Run” experience was produced by Audi, Marvel, Disney, and Holoride. Using an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, consumers could travel to a virtual world with their favorite Avengers characters while riding in an Audi E-Tron. In this game, what happens in the virtual world will depend on how the driver of the Audi E-Tron drives in the real world. The passenger’s movement through the virtual world will mimic the Audi E-Tron’s movement in the real world. For example, the Audi E-Tron turns left, the virtual spaceship in the game will turn left as well. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/virtual-reality-experiences.jpg] This game, which was only available to passengers who ride in the backseat, is just the beginning when it comes to in-car virtual reality entertainment. Holoride plans on creating a wide range of in-car virtual reality experiences for passengers in the future. This could completely transform the experience of traveling by car for people who aren’t in the driver’s seat. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Autonomous-Car-Control.jpg] AUTONOMOUS CAR CONTROL Autonomous cars are meant to drive on their own without any human intervention, but virtual reality technology could be used to help drivers maintain some degree of control over self-driving vehicles. Several years ago, Toyota filed a patent for a virtual reality navigation system that would be used solely in self-driving vehicles. The system would show drivers where their self-driving vehicle intended on driving at any given point during their journey. Drivers would be able to see the exact path that the vehicle planned on taking in order to reach their final destination. If the driver isn’t satisfied with the chosen route, this system would give them the opportunity to change the self-driving vehicle’s plans. In other words, the self-driving vehicle would handle the actual driving, but the human driver would still be able to call the shots. For example, say the driver sees that the self-driving vehicle is planning on taking a toll road. This route may be the fastest, but the driver may not want to pay the toll. In this case, the driver would have the option of adjusting the self-driving vehicle’s route to avoid having to pay this toll. Toyota has not introduced this technology to consumers yet, but based on the patent filing alone, it’s clear that virtual reality will be incorporated into future Toyota vehicles in some way. VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS In the past, automotive consumers had to visit dealerships in-person to explore their options before deciding which vehicle to purchase. However, virtual reality has changed that. Now, automotive consumers can explore vehicles from the comfort of their own homes by visiting a virtual showroom. A virtual showroom is similar to a real showroom, but it exists in a simulated world rather than the real world. Automotive consumers can visit a virtual showroom online using their computer, tablet, or smartphone. Once inside the showroom, they can explore the interior and exterior of every vehicle just like they would if they were inside a real showroom. They can even walk around the vehicle and rotate it to see it from different angles. Audi is one of the many automotive manufacturers that has already built a virtual showroom for its consumers. Consumers can visit a virtual showroom to explore the full range of Audi vehicles. The company believes that this will help smaller Audi dealerships, which can’t carry a wide range of models due to space limitations. Now, these dealerships won’t have to turn customers away simply because they don’t have a vehicle in stock. Instead, they can direct customers to virtually explore the vehicle before making a purchase decision. The introduction of virtual showrooms has made it easier for automotive consumers to research different vehicles online. Because of virtual reality, automotive consumers can get the dealership showroom experience without stepping foot in a dealership. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Virtual-Test-Drives.jpg] VIRTUAL TEST DRIVES Taking a test drive is an important part of the average automotive consumer’s car-buying journey. In fact, nearly two-thirds of consumers said they would not purchase a vehicle without taking it for a test drive first. But thanks to virtual reality, automotive consumers may not need to visit a dealership in-person to take a vehicle out for a spin. Many automotive dealerships now offer virtual test drives, which are test drives powered by virtual reality technology. Consumers can select which make and model they want to test drive. Then, they can take the selected vehicle on a simulated test drive to see what it’s like to sit behind the wheel. A virtual test drive gives consumers the chance to experience how the vehicle drives and explore the interior of the vehicle. Consumers can test drive as many vehicles as they would like, which will help them compare different models, narrow down their options, and determine which vehicle is right for them. Taking a virtual test drive is also far more convenient since consumers can do it without scheduling an appointment in advance or leaving their homes. Automotive consumers won’t need to purchase a special virtual reality headset or device to take a virtual test drive. All they need to start their virtual test drive is their computer, tablet, or smartphone. Then, they can buckle up and hit the virtual road. SAFETY TESTING Every vehicle goes through rigorous testing before it is sold to consumers. For example, every vehicle must go through crash tests, which determine how the vehicle will hold up when hit by another car from various angles. In the past, automotive manufacturers could not perform these tests until the vehicle was actually produced. But now, automotive manufacturers have the option of using virtual reality to conduct these safety tests early on in the design and development phase. For example, in 2017, many vehicles did not pass the headlight safety test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The next year, automotive manufacturers were committed to improving their headlights to ensure they could pass this crucial safety test. Instead of waiting for a vehicle to be produced, automotive manufacturers began using virtual reality to test their headlights during the vehicle design and development process. This allowed them to determine whether or not the headlights met the IIHS’s standards while the vehicle was still being designed. If the headlights did not meet these standards, the automotive manufacturer could simply tweak the design and retest the headlights. This way, the automotive manufacturer could perfect the design of the headlights before the vehicle went into production. This is just one example of how automotive manufacturers have used virtual reality technology to reduce the time and costs associated with safety testing. Virtual Reality in Cars [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Design-and-Prototyping.jpg] DESIGN AND PROTOTYPING It takes a long time to design a new vehicle. Countless changes are made to the design of a vehicle before it is approved for production. Every time a change is made to the design, a new clay prototype must be built to reflect the changes. Building these clay prototypes is not only time-consuming, but also expensive. Fortunately, virtual reality technology can eliminate the need for these prototypes. Several automotive manufacturers, including Ford, are now using virtual reality technology to design new vehicles. Ford designers now create virtual models of new designs instead of clay prototypes. Once the virtual model is complete, the designers can rotate the vehicle to view it from every angle. They can even put a virtual driver in the front seat to inspect the interior design. If a change is requested, the team simply updates the virtual model instead of creating a new clay prototype. This drastically reduces the amount of time that it takes to complete the design of a new vehicle. Ford estimates that virtual reality has shortened the design process from weeks to hours. Using virtual reality in this manner also reduces the cost of designing a new vehicle. It’s also easier for designers to collaborate on a virtual design. Everyone on the team–regardless of where they are located–can visit the virtual room to view the model and provide their input. Because it is easier to collaborate, this process could lead to more innovative and exciting design ideas. EMPLOYEE TRAINING Virtual reality technology has also changed the way in which employees in the automotive industry are trained. Employees used to learn how to assemble different car models by observing others. After watching someone else correctly assemble a vehicle, these employees were given an opportunity to test their knowledge by assembling a car model under the supervision of trained experts. Even though they were supervised, employees often make mistakes during this stage of the training process. Each mistake can cause significant damage to the vehicle, which can cost the manufacturer hundreds or thousands of dollars. Some mistakes can also jeopardize the safety of employees. Now, automotive manufacturers are using virtual reality technology to train new employees in a virtual environment. Employees can now get hands-on experience assembling a vehicle in a virtual world rather than a real world. This way, employees are free to make mistakes without worrying about the safety or financial repercussions. Instead, they can learn from their mistakes in the virtual world so they don’t make the same errors when assembling vehicles in the real world. Virtual reality also makes it easier for automotive manufacturers to train large groups of employees at once. Employees from around the globe can join virtual training sessions, so automotive manufacturers can train everyone at the same time instead of hosting training sessions at each location. DRIVING SIMULATOR FOR TEENS Hundreds of thousands of teenagers are injured in traffic accidents every year. Many of these traffic accidents are caused by inexperience. Teenagers are fairly new to driving, so they don’t always have the experience necessary to avoid accidents. To address this problem, Toyota developed a driving simulator powered by virtual reality technology called TeenDrive365. TeenDrive365 allows teenagers to practice driving in a virtual world before they get behind the wheel in the real world. This simulator, which is compatible with Oculus Rift devices, provides teenagers with the skills they need to safely operate in a vehicle in the real world. It focuses on teaching teenagers how to avoid distractions while operating a vehicle. Teenagers will encounter a number of different distractions while virtually driving in the TeenDrive365 simulated world. For example, they may hear their phone ringing or a passenger in the backseat asking them a question. Teenagers must train themselves to avoid these distractions so they can continue to safely drive their virtual vehicle. This prepares them for the real world, where they will have to learn how to ignore these distractions every time they get behind the wheel. Teenagers who are unable to ignore these virtual distractions may get into an accident. Even though it occurs in a simulated world, it still feels real, which helps teenagers understand the dangerous consequences of distracted driving. The automotive industry was one of the first industries to embrace virtual reality technology. Now, automotive companies have found countless ways to use this technology to their advantage. Some of these virtual reality applications are already in use, whereas others are planned for the future. This means virtual reality will continue to drive change and innovation in the automotive industry in the years to come.
All About the Audi Virtual Reality Showroom
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. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/virtual-reality-in-Audis-showrooms.jpg] 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. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Audi-manufacturing-and-sales-processes.jpg] 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. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/How-is-VR-used-to-visualize-new-products.jpg] 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. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Is-virtual-reality-impacting-Audi.jpg] 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. Audi Virtual Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Audi-virtual-reality-showrooms.jpg] 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: * Google * Oculus * Autodesk * Robert Bosch GmbH * Onboard * Microsoft * HTC * Audax * OmniVirt * 4Experience 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.
Why Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace Within Five Years
Virtual reality is creeping into virtually every corner of the global commercial sphere, from gaming to automotive to real estate. The growth of this form of immersive media is no surprise to most in the dynamic digital commercial space, with more than 5.5 million units in circulation as of last year. In the next five years, virtual reality technology is expected to reach a market size of at least $1 trillion. An increased level of affordability, plus accessible options across multiple price points and target audiences, is putting VR into the hands of more consumers than ever. With front-runners like Oculus, PlayStation, and HTC paving the way, thousands of brands and retailers are prioritizing virtual reality to bring more realistic visual, auditory, and tactile media to their customers. Virtual reality is effectively changing the digital world as we know it. These are just some of the reasons why virtual reality will be a trillion-dollar marketplace within five years. IS THE VR INDUSTRY GROWING? This form of simulated experience, while entirely different from the real world, is becoming a mainstay in the mainstream consumer marketplace. With more than six million headset units sold this year alone, VR is soon to be the most widely used digital sensory device in the world. Virtual reality technology has evolved to include more than just digital images and surround sound. Now, it’s possible to include touch, smell, and even taste depending on the model you’re using. Within the gaming sector, we’re seeing the fastest and highest level of growth. Since 2017, this segment has seen monetary growth of more than $1 billion, and an additional $1 billion is predicted to funnel into the industry before 2024. Gaming is just one corner of the market, and VR technology has expanded within industries like: * Healthcare * Supply chain management * Retail * Physical sciences * Research and academia In 2016, the majority of mobile headsets sold were based on mobile connectivity. Today, most purchased units are self-contained with their own built-in data storage and computing capabilities. Between the changes in VR growth and AI innovation, machine learning and dynamic media could change the world as we know it. WHAT ARE THE TOP BRANDS IN VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY? Virtual reality is no longer a monopolized industry with just a few key players. In fact, the technology is more affordable and accessible than ever – largely as a result of increased competition across the mainstream marketplace. In 2021, these brands became household names and are continuing to sit in the spotlight: * Oculus * HTS * Samsung * Microsoft * Unity * VironIT * Alphabet/Google * Next/Now * Quytech * Magic Leap * Nvidia * NextVR * Matterport * AMD However, there are a variety of established and emerging brands that are finding their way across the world and into the hands (and living rooms) of consumers across virtually every sector of the market. Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/What-devices-integrate-virtual-reality.jpg] WHAT DEVICES INTEGRATE VIRTUAL REALITY? Between smart wearables, increased mobile adaptivity, and affordable auxiliary devices – there are more ways than ever to enjoy virtual reality from anywhere, at any time. VR headsets and goggles continue to be the most commonly used devices for gaming, virtual travel, and even remote employment. These devices allow the wearer to navigate through a fully digital, 360-degree rendered environment with just enough physical space to take a few steps and turn around. While the standard headset has risen in popularity on the mainstream market, there are a variety of VR devices to provide a diverse immersive experience. Other common ways to access virtual reality environments include: * Glasses * Gloves * Bodysuits * Sensor-enabled workspaces Hand-held remotes are also a popular addition to VR headsets that allow the wearer to use manipulative elements, such as tools or aiming equipment that can be controlled using motion sensors, haptic triggers, and built-in accelerometers. These additions to the digital work (and play) spaces make it easier than ever for users to dive into the virtual sphere – without the learning curve. What was previously a niche within the gaming sector has expanded to instructional training, mechanics, engineering, defense, technical construction, automotive, and more. Wearable accessories and mobile connectivity have made it easier than ever for individual users to collaborate virtually, but with the same level of comfort and convenience as in-person collaboration. These technological developments are partially responsible for the massive influx of interest in the VR industry as a whole. In fact, virtual reality is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18% over the next seven years. As a whole, the virtual reality industry has grown to include the full suite of connected devices and more types of equipment will likely surface in the coming years as innovation grows and thrives across multidisciplinary industries. HOW IS VR HARDWARE CHANGING? VR headsets have been around for a few years, but innovators are creating lightweight equipment that is cheaper and easier to use – without all of the bulk. Even the most powerful VR devices are using sophisticated technology to reduce the amount of space (and weight) needed to build a functional product. Contemporary devices are smaller, sleeker, and overall better than previous models. Additionally, leaders in VR research and development are working to perfect the technology that produces these integrated experiences. A lot of hesitation surrounding the VR industry in previous years has been based on ongoing issues with seamless integration and ongoing updates to the technology. Now, VR hardware is powerful enough to support hardcore gaming and work functions but without the bulky, buggy issues of previous models. Virtual reality isn’t foolproof, but innovators are working toward a type of device that is as light as a pair of glasses – but provides all of the functions you can expect from your smartphone or desktop PC. Now that immersive technology has improved in such a way to facilitate this level of growth, updated optics are also being integrated into VR use. This is made possible by updated, thin glass structures that utilize polarization-based optic folding or holographic optics to reflect light and digital images together. No matter how you’re planning to use this growing technology, virtual and augmented reality are becoming lifestyle products that could be adopted by the majority of mainstream consumers in the near future. Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/What-is-the-target-market-for-virtual-reality.jpg] WHAT IS THE TARGET MARKET FOR VIRTUAL REALITY? Since 2015, gaming and entertainment have dominated the demand for virtual reality technology. However, that focus has expanded from 2020 onward to include other markets like: * Travel * Fitness * DIY * Automotive Millennials and boomers are a major player in the VR sphere as a whole, but the primary demographic tends to be males in the 25-39 age range. When it comes to secondary industries, such as retail or consumer goods, using VR as a branding strategy provides high returns. More than half of consumers would prefer to shop with brands that offer virtual reality experiences, while 68% of those who have not used the technology express an interest in giving it a shot. Around the world, this technology has taken off across nearly every continent. But, North America and Asia are the current front runners. As accessibility and affordability increases, this level of access will likely expand to the rest of the globe over the next year or two. Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/How-much-is-VR-worth-in-2021.jpg] HOW MUCH IS VR WORTH IN 2021? The global VR market has a current valuation of $21.83 billion. This is a significant jump from its $17.25 valuation in 2020. The growth of the VR industry as a whole has been due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing regulations that followed. With so many industries suffering from the absence of in-person contact, virtual reality has helped to bridge the gap. While the VR industry has incurred its own impact during the economic downturn, market size is expected to maintain the same amount of growth, or higher, as the past five years. From 2015-2021, virtual reality as a commodity maintained an annual growth rate of 15. Demand is continuing to grow, which will have a direct impact on the industry’s gross profit and business distribution metrics in the coming years. Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Why-is-VR-gaining-popularity.jpg] WHY IS VR GAINING POPULARITY? In addition to being a fun way to complete everyday tasks, virtual reality technology has opened doors for a wide range of practical uses. Due to its ability to turn tangible experiences into positive emotional responses, VR is being used in marketing, engineering, manufacturing, and even driving to mimic real-world environments. As businesses moved their operations online to cope with the pandemic, the corporate world started to see VR as a useful tool to boost collaboration and communication across remote offices. Using virtual reality instead of standard desktop workspaces gives users more “space” to manipulate digital objects, text, and even tactile elements. This has the potential to expand a worker’s home office space without adding any extra equipment, or square footage. Brands are also using virtual reality to enhance marketing efforts while increasing engagement at the same time. Social media has already started to incorporate VR and AR capabilities, such as 360-degree responsive photos and videos as well as superimposed filters. By giving viewers tangible access to the content, each ad is transformed into more of an experience than a sales pitch. Since no marketplace or individual consumer is the same, VR gives each user the ability to tailor their experience to what’s going on in their own digital environment. Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/What-can-be-done-using-virtual-reality.jpg] WHAT CAN BE DONE USING VIRTUAL REALITY? As previously mentioned, VR is growing rapidly across the gaming, healthcare, science, and even online shopping spheres. But, there are a variety of other practical uses that make virtual reality the perfect medium for digital exploration. Virtual reality environments are the best online solution for simulated in-person interaction. Through gaming, communication, or work-based programs, users can talk to each other and manipulate digital objects simultaneously. Compared to video chat and text-based services, this is the closest online option to true face-to-face interaction. With travel being so heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual reality gave people a safe and accessible way to go to their favorite places around the world. From virtual zip lining to excursions through Antarctic caves, there are endless possibilities when you can visit any physical location from the comfort of home. Additionally, VR allows people to head back into time to explore history in a way that books just can’t compete with. Using connected apps and programs, it’s possible to travel to ancient sites to learn about past societies in a new way. For thrill-seekers who don’t want the risk that comes with adventurous activities like diving, sky sports, and more – there’s a virtual reality solution for just about everything you can think of. If you’ve always wanted to explore a shipwreck or alpen mountain top, you can traverse any type of terrain or environment with just a headset and mobile phone. With the average cost of a smartphone VR adapter starting at just a few dollars, there is virtually no investment to start with virtual reality. If you want to dive into the full experience with a headset, you can easily find a full system for just $100. For a more immersive and mind-blowing environment, you can build a completely interactive three-dimensional space for approximately $15,000. It’s also possible to incorporate augmented reality elements to truly blend your digital and real-world views. From facilitating an easier home office transition to connecting gamers from all over the world like never before, virtual reality is going to continue to grow rapidly. Based on the data that has been collected thus far, virtual reality will be a trillion-dollar marketplace within the next five years.
Is Virtual Reality Car Shopping the Future?
The car buying journey has evolved over the years. In the past, automotive consumers visited an average of five dealerships before deciding which vehicle to purchase. But now, consumers complete many of the steps of the car buying journey online rather than at dealerships. Today’s automotive consumers go online to gather information, conduct research, compare and contrast different models, and narrow down their options. As a result, the modern automotive consumer only visits one or two dealerships before purchasing a vehicle. Furthermore, most consumers have already decided which vehicle they want and are ready to buy once they arrive at a dealership. To remain competitive, automotive companies must adapt to this sudden shift to a digital car-buying journey. This is why many automotive companies are moving toward virtual reality car shopping experiences. WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY? Virtual reality is technology that can be used to transport users to simulated environments. You aren’t simply looking at a different environment on a screen. Instead, the technology allows you to leave the real world behind and become fully immersed in the simulated environment. The technology even allows you to interact with different elements in the new environment. You may need a special device such as a headset or pair of goggles in order to experience virtual reality technology. Some of the most popular virtual reality devices include the Oculus, HTC Vive, and the Sony Playstation VR headset. However, you can access some virtual reality experiences with just your smartphone. Many people confuse virtual reality with augmented reality, but these are two distinct technologies. The former takes users to a completely new, simulated environment, whereas the latter does not. Instead, augmented reality allows users to enhance their real-world environment with images, sounds, and other digital elements. HOW IS VIRTUAL REALITY USED FOR CAR SHOPPING? The two main ways in which virtual reality is used in the car-shopping process are: * Virtual Showrooms * Virtual Test Drives Virtual Showrooms Automotive dealerships can use virtual reality technology to create virtual showrooms to showcase their inventory. A virtual showroom is just like a real showroom, except it exists online. Automotive consumers can visit a virtual showroom to explore the interior and exterior of a vehicle, rotate it to see it from different angles, and walk around it just as they would if they were actually inside a dealership’s showroom. Virtual showrooms can eliminate the need for consumers to travel to dealerships in order to see vehicles in person. Inside a virtual showroom, consumers can carefully examine vehicles and compare and contrast different models to help them reach a purchase decision. Thanks to virtual reality technology, consumers will feel as if they’re standing inside a showroom at a local dealership rather than shopping for a vehicle online. Virtual Reality Car [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Virtual-Test-Drives.jpg] VIRTUAL TEST DRIVES Test drives are very important to automotive consumers. According to the 2021 Global Automotive Consumer Study, nearly two-thirds of consumers still want to take a test drive of a vehicle before purchasing it. In the past, these consumers may have needed to travel to a dealership to test drive a vehicle. But now, virtual reality gives these consumers the opportunity to test drive multiple vehicles without ever leaving their homes. A number of automotive manufacturers are already using virtual test drives to make it easier for consumers to shop online for new vehicles. A consumer can take a virtual test drive of any vehicle model using only their computer or smartphone. They can see how the vehicle drives and what it feels like to sit behind the wheel before making a purchase decision. Using virtual reality in this manner makes the process of taking a test drive easier, faster, and more convenient for both the dealership and the consumer. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF VIRTUAL REALITY CAR SALES? The virtual reality car shopping experience can benefit both automotive consumers and dealerships. Some of the many benefits include: * Lowers Overhead Costs * Creates A More Convenient Shopping Experience * Increases Sales Staff Availability * Widens the Customer Base * Improves Customer Satisfaction LOWERS OVERHEAD COSTS Many dealerships are hesitant to invest in virtual reality technology. Although it requires an upfront financial commitment, it’s important for dealerships to realize that this technology will save them money over time by lowering overhead costs. Dealerships spend thousands of dollars per year on transporting vehicles to their showrooms and maintaining the vehicles until they are purchased. However, the use of virtual reality technology could drastically reduce or even eliminate these expenses. Virtual showrooms and virtual test drives could eliminate the need for dealerships to keep a large number of vehicles on-site. Instead of keeping these vehicles on-site at all times, dealerships could choose to only transport them to the showroom once they have been purchased online. Automotive dealerships could even choose to transport the vehicles directly to the customers’ homes instead of the showroom. Not only would this reduce transportation and maintenance expenses, but it would also allow dealerships to operate out of smaller spaces, which means they could save money on rent and other operating expenses as well. Virtual Reality Car [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Creates-A-More-Convenient-Shopping-Experience.jpg] CREATES A MORE CONVENIENT SHOPPING EXPERIENCE Most automotive consumers would agree that shopping for a vehicle online is far more convenient than shopping for a vehicle at a dealership. According to a recent study, nearly half of automotive consumers are unhappy about the amount of time it takes to purchase a vehicle from a dealership. Automotive consumers currently spend an average of three hours at a dealership when purchasing a vehicle. However, moving the car buying process online would drastically reduce the amount of time that consumers spent at dealerships, which would make the entire process more convenient. Even if consumers could only complete some of the purchase steps online, such as exploring vehicles in a virtual showroom, they could reduce the amount of time they spend at a dealership. This isn’t the only reason why shopping for a vehicle online is more convenient than shopping for one at a dealership. The use of virtual reality technology allows automotive consumers to start the car buying process on their own schedule from the comfort of their homes. This means they could technically explore a virtual showroom or take a virtual test drive at any hour—even if it is outside of the dealership’s standard operating hours. There’s no need to waste time traveling to dealerships—the entire process takes place online. INCREASES SALES STAFF AVAILABILITY The use of virtual reality technology could lead to increased sales staff availability, too. Sales representatives typically work one-on-one with customers who visit dealerships in-person, which means they usually only help one customer at a time. But if customers start shopping for vehicles online, this could free up a lot of time in the sales team’s availability. Digital automotive consumers may need online assistance from a sales representative throughout their car buying journey. For example, a customer may use a live chat feature on the dealership’s website to ask a sales representative a question about a specific vehicle they see online. But even if a sales representative must step in to provide help, they can still help other customers at the same time. This is because online shoppers typically won’t require a sales representative’s undivided attention. So sales representatives would be able to serve multiple customers at the same time, which means they could potentially sell more vehicles. Virtual Reality Car [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Widens-the-Customer-Base.jpg] WIDENS THE CUSTOMER BASE The traditional car-buying experience only allows dealerships to serve customers who are living in the immediate area. This is because customers must visit dealerships in-person in order to buy a new vehicle, and they typically only visit dealerships located nearby. But the use of virtual reality technology could help dealerships widen their customer base. If customers are able to virtually explore and test-drive vehicles online, they won’t need to visit a dealership in-person before buying a new vehicle. This means virtual reality technology could give dealerships the potential to serve customers from around the country. Serving a wider customer base would give dealerships the opportunity to sell more vehicles and increase their profits. Dealerships aren’t the only ones who benefit from this, though. Automotive consumers also benefit from being able to shop online at any dealership regardless of their location. This would make it easier for automotive consumers to find the exact vehicle they want. They would no longer be limited to choosing from the vehicles that are in stock at local dealerships. IMPROVES CUSTOMER SATISFACTION One of the reasons why so many automotive consumers want to take the car buying process online is because they aren’t satisfied with the traditional dealership experience. In fact, one survey found that 87% of consumers disliked at least one aspect of the process of buying a car at a dealership. Some of these consumers reported feeling anxious or uncomfortable at dealerships, whereas others felt like they were frequently taken advantage of when visiting automotive dealerships. The use of virtual reality car shopping could eliminate the need to visit a dealership to buy a car. This would please the majority of consumers who are unhappy with the dealership experience, which means it would improve overall customer satisfaction. To put it simply, using virtual reality technology to create a digital automotive shopping experience would give consumers exactly what they want when it comes to buying a new vehicle. For this reason, it’s safe to say that virtual reality car shopping will become increasingly popular in the years ahead.
How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021
Snapchat has been around for years as a way for friends to connect, without commitment, using disappearing text, images, and video. In recent years, this platform has become a world leader in the mainstream adoption of augmented and virtual reality technology. Businesses are hopping on the trend to capitalize on this growing movement while using virtual reality technology to maintain sales metrics during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. From offering virtual try-on solutions across multiple commercial spheres to understanding user behaviors for more targeted advertising, Snapchat is changing the world for e-commerce brands, brick-and-mortar stores, and consumers alike. Just last year, Snapchat released 15 different products that all use virtual and augmented reality to create an immersive experience for their users. Additionally, over the past few months, the value of the app has increased by more than double. This mobile app is taking over the world in a unique way, and these are just a few ways that Snap is turning virtual reality into real money. How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Augmented-Reality-Reaches-Millennials-and-Gen-Z.jpg]A teenager boy is holding a Samsung phone in his hand. He reads about social network Snapchat in Play Market. He wants to download and install the program on the phone. April, 2017 – Minsk, Belarus. AUGMENTED REALITY REACHES MILLENNIALS AND GEN Z Younger consumers have been sticking to social media like glue, even before the pandemic took hold around the world. Gen Z and Millennial buyers want instant access to thorough research and product testing, in comparison to older generations. Using augmented reality and virtual reality during the shopping process is an easy and efficient way to try different colors of a product, review item specifications, and even check stock levels instantly. And, these trends aren’t only applying to e-commerce. Brick-and-mortar stores have also started using Snapchat to simplify the shopping process. In order to keep up with consumer demand for immersive reality experiences, Snapchat has doubled down on infrastructure costs during the pandemic. This investment is already proving to provide a high ROI for the tech brand, as daily usage has soared over the past few months. In the first quarter of last year, Snapchat had 229 million daily active users (DAUs) – which is an increase of at least 20 percent YoY. And, that’s only in the American market. France and the United Kingdom, for example, experienced an increase of more than 30 percent among DAUs. The increase in adoption among key demographics has translated to an increase in overall engagement, as well. This has driven sales through the roof for Snapchat’s brand – a 44 percent increase to a total of $462 million in 2020 alone. Gen Z and Millennial consumers want instant access to impressive tech solutions, and virtual/augmented reality are leading the way. From shopping to communication to everything in between, Snapchat is paving the way for widespread adoption of immersive and mixed media in everyday life. How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Immersive-Media-Brings-More-to-the-Table.jpg]woman updating her snapchat in cafe IMMERSIVE MEDIA BRINGS MORE TO THE TABLE Virtual reality is creating buzz across the gaming, commerce, and even real estate spheres as more people find value in video and immersive media. These solutions provide users with the unique ability to try products in a realistic environment, without ever leaving home. Additionally, Snapchat’s approach to the tech trend removes the need for auxiliary equipment – such as headsets and motion-capture elements. With just a mobile device and the app, users are able to apply visual elements over real-world images – or simply by highlighting their chosen product through the lens. Buying a new couch? See what each color would look like staged in your living room. Shopping for a car? Check out the features with a digital magnifying glass, and test drive the unit on your choice of terrain. AR/VR technology is finding its way into virtually every industry, and Snapchat has capitalized on that boom among their growing consumer base in a huge way. Even though the world is opening up in waves, the consumer pool as a whole has become accustomed to instant digital access to everything they need for day-to-day life. Experts expect that trend to continue, even once the pandemic officially comes to a close. How Snap is Turning Virtual Reality Into Real Money in 2021 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Digital-Try-On-Solutions-Reduce-Returns-and-Buyers-Remorse.jpg]Online shopping – Paper cartons or parcel with a shopping cart logo and credit card on a laptop keyboard. Shopping service on The online web and offers home delivery. DIGITAL TRY-ON SOLUTIONS REDUCE RETURNS AND BUYER’S REMORSE Returns make up a significant amount of revenue loss across various corners of the market, from clothing to furniture to even cars. By having a way to truly test a product in a virtual setting, consumers are able to have more faith in their purchases. As a result, returns have dropped by more than 22% among top brands. Snapchat users are among the growing group that is prioritizing digitization in the shopping experience, with at least 40 percent of their consumer base using augmented reality technology in the past 12 months for day-to-day commerce. Additionally, as we’ve seen with the growth among Snapchat users, these apps make shoppers more likely to buy while they’re shopping online or in the store. Window shopping has always made up a considerable amount of the commercial sphere, and looking for products online is free of costs AND commitments. But, with cart abandonment rates being such a powerful metric for online stores, AR/VR tech is helping brands to get more out of their window shoppers through sales engagement standards and improved conversions. As Snapchat continues to penetrate multiple spheres and demographics, businesses and individuals are jumping on the bandwagon to make shopping easier and more satisfying than ever before. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Pandemic-Shopping-Behaviors-Extend-to-Mobile-App-Use.jpg]African young man in glasses shopping online with credit card using smart phone at home. Indoor. PANDEMIC SHOPPING BEHAVIORS EXTEND TO MOBILE APP USE Americans, in general, prefer to surf the web on their mobile devices, and recent data shows that more than 92 percent of online users access the internet from a phone. This dependence on hand-held connectivity is one of the reasons why stores have been prioritizing social media engagement and mobile accessibility. More consumers are shopping from their phones, and this trend is bleeding into a wide range of digital markets. Social media, such as Snapchat, can be credited with coaxing this wave of cyber shoppers and the growth of digital integration into our daily lives. Following the Coronavirus, app downloads and usage skyrocketed to break records across the entire web. In fact, consumer spending as a whole reached record highs in the second quarter of last year. How was this possible during one of the largest economic downturns of recent years? One of the reasons why Americans are spending more time on their phones is to cope with the changing world around them. Online shopping, as well as social media use as a whole, is one way to mitigate the stress and uncertainty of a global pandemic. Additionally, as more and more businesses have sent their employees home to work remotely, we’ve become accustomed to the instant access to goods and information that these apps provide. From small-scale businesses to global brands, people are using programs and apps like Snapchat to: * Appeal to a wider consumer base * Approach new potential customers * Increase engagement across other platforms * Drive online store activity * Boost brand recognition * Stay tapped into their target audiences, and what users are looking for By helping to increase customer conversions, using social media for brand growth, and adopting immersive media as a mainstay in modern society – apps like Snapchat are effectively changing the digital sphere and the commercial world as we’ve always known it. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/More-Consumers-Want-Instant-Shopping-Options.jpg]Online shopping concept, young woman hands holding mobile phone showing payment success information on screen with credit card and laptop computer on table while relax at home MORE CONSUMERS WANT INSTANT SHOPPING OPTIONS If the pandemic changed anything about the commercial sphere, it’s the type of instant gratification that was created by the dearth of instant shipping options as a result of social distancing measures. To keep up with demand and meet sales goals, retailers responded by upping their delivery and mobile accessibility measures in 2020. Following the close of the pandemic, that trend is expected to stick around – and even grow – according to experts in these key industries. As previously mentioned, we’re getting used to the instant access to goods that food delivery, rapid shipping, and AR-based shopping tools provide. Even once stores are able to fully open up to the public, online shopping trends will continue to drive a major section of the commercial market. In fact, e-commerce is also boosting social media apps in a symbiotic way. With more and more consumers looking to online solutions to get through daily life, brands like Snapchat are swooping in to bridge the gap. By offering a new way for brands and business professionals to reach their target consumers, this technology is being more widely used in the commercial sphere. Since more consumers are driving the demand for digitization in the commercial, social, and professional worlds – apps and tech brands are facilitating this change. Providing resources to their consumer base while also catalyzing the upcoming “digital boom” sweep is helping to drive this change that is taking over the world. WHY IS SNAPCHAT MORE COST-EFFECTIVE THAN PROPRIETARY AUGMENTED REALITY OPTIONS? While many brands have started offering their own AR/VR apps and programs to connect with consumers, Snapchat has proven to be the more affordable option for certain functions such as: * Product try-on functions * Image and video capture * Scannable product data and information planning * Referrals and sharing accessibility To keep ROI high while still utilizing this powerful social trend, brands are turning to established apps like Snapchat for the same features at a fraction of the cost. Building a proprietary AR app or program requires a heavy amount of overhead, and this trend is really only in use among technical brands such as electronics or automotive. For clothing, consumer goods, furniture retailers, and more – utilizing third-party programs proves to be more affordable and accessible for many businesses and corporate brands. With Snapchat’s free features, growing brands are able to access the booming technology that is building the social media sphere without the cost and overhead of spearheading their own initiatives. Snapchat, in return, is seeing a steady increase in corporate usage as well as individual adoption from 2020 on. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/How-Snap-is-Turning-Virtual-Reality-into-Real-Money.jpg]Alushta, Russia – May 23, 2017: Woman holding iPhone with social networking service Snapchat on the screen. iPhone was created and developed by the Apple inc. HOW SNAP IS TURNING VIRTUAL REALITY INTO REAL MONEY Virtual reality as a concept has been generating buzz for decades, but it has only recently become affordable enough to truly turn a profit. Additionally, businesses who are looking for a fresh and unique way to appeal to their audiences have adopted some form of AR/VR connectivity to tap into this growing consumer base. While their expenses have increased as a result of the sharp intake, they have also maximized value by monetizing these changes through advertising, premium product offerings, and more. With a paid service option that expands user capabilities, premium users could take advantage of a wide range of features for a small fee. Gaining access to the Snapchat premium plan included: * Exclusive, paid content that isn’t available to free users * Personal connection with brands and personalities that are in-demand * Screenshot production * Snapcash integration * Spotlight access Snapchat’s Spotlight feature actually pays users to make viral posts, which is another way the brand is generating revenue during this unprecedented time in the company’s history. Payment for this feature is largely determined by the post’s success, as well as the reputation the user is able to maintain online. Viral posts are all over the web, and this is yet another way for social media platforms and users alike to gain public attention – and make a profit – based on their creative content. Augmented and virtual reality is changing the world before our eyes, and social media brands are taking this technology to expand their brand’s reach while appealing to current consumers. As we continue to dive deeper into the digital world, technology is paving the way for future trends and the growth of global commerce in the immediate future. For these reasons, Snap is turning virtual reality into real money across the entire network of brands, companies, and even influencers on the web. Despite a rise in their operational costs, Snapchat is using their approach to integrated augmented and virtual reality to build their own brand significantly during an ongoing health and economic crisis.
Virtual Reality Trends that Could Be the Future
A virtual future may not be too far from reality, and virtual reality has already plugged into daily life. Automotive manufacturers use this technology in design, and retailers may use virtual reality as a means to replicate in-person experiences. The future is virtual. According to Statista, the predictions for a virtual future include six million virtual reality headset sales for 2021. Statista also predicts that gaming will capture $1.4 billion, while the entire virtual reality market will hit nearly $5 billion (in 2021). What else will consumers view through virtual lenses? Here are virtual reality trends that could be the future. VIRTUAL TRAINING Virtual reality is already embraced by some retail global giants during employee training. The technology allows employees to safely engage in and experience customer service situations that simulate real life experiences in a virtual realm. By using a virtual platform to introduce new employees to challenging customer service scenarios, it allows them to better prepare for the real situation. In the virtual realm, mistakes can be used as a learning tool. No customer was actually involved or affected. If an employee incorrectly manages the situation, nothing escalates. Instead, managers could use the virtual real to decide if the employee is a good fit. Virtual reality could be not just a teaching tool but something used to gauge the effectiveness of the employee match, too. Virtual training scenarios also allow employees to walk through potentially dangerous incidents without any real danger. Virtual reality could be used to help teach employees how to handle a robbery or other emergency situation. Companies like Strivr have created virtual reality training platforms. Strivr has been used by jetBlue, Fidelity and Verizon. Strivr creates a “custom curriculum” for each company. Virtual Reality Trends [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Virtual-Trips.jpg] VIRTUAL TRIPS! Covid kept many Americans at home for months at a time. Even now, many cities in the country still have restrictions on capacity, and, of course, masks may also be required. During the beginning of the pandemic, though, shelter-in-place mandates kept many from leaving home for anything but essential trips. Not many people were going out. But most everyone was looking for ways to stay busy…and entertained. Sheltering-in-place began to feel like confinement perhaps. However, all those closed recreational businesses began to find their footing virtually. Museums and other venues offered virtual tours and trips. Virtual was reality. And while virtual trips and tours weren’t the same as the real-life experience, for Americans hunkering indoors, the virtual realm might have been the only ticket to fun. Those virtual trips could have started a new trend, though. For example, museums of great interest for tourists offered online virtual tours. No matter what part of the world an individual lived, they could virtually walk through museums like the Louvre or the Guggenheim. In fact, the Guggenheim allowed families and individuals to sign up for private virtual tours. The museum also offered online art classes, too! YouTube also provided individuals and families with a way to explore faraway lands and countries. Videos via YouTube included tours of rainforests and famous landmarks, too. Those staying home could even take a virtual tour of the Pyramids of Giza. Will the future embrace these virtual tours? Perhaps as virtual reality headsets become more accessible, tours of countries or historical landmarks could go virtual. Maybe museums and other cultural venues also embrace virtual tours. Virtual Reality Trends [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Virtual-Shopping.jpg] VIRTUAL SHOPPING Online shopping isn’t new. During the pandemic, though, online retail might have felt like the safest option. While many areas of the country have gradually opened up to more foot traffic, stores may be a bit more active with shoppers. However, some consumers might have become more comfortable and confident with the online retail options. Buying online will likely continue to be a popular choice, but what about virtual shopping? Will online shopping begin to include virtual components? Currently, virtual and augmented reality features can be found within the online world of commerce. Stores like Ulta and Sephora offer virtual try-on options for consumers to preview shades of cosmetics. Ikea’s stores offer virtual reality experiences to allow consumers to create a kitchen. Car shopping also has gone virtual. Sites like RelayCars allow consumers to preview a vehicle in virtual reality. Users can swap out the paint hues and peek inside the car. Virtual reality could become more prevalent in the car-shopping experience, and, in the future, perhaps users step into a virtual realm as the beginning of their car hunt. Maybe the virtual reality showrooms give consumers a better idea about the cars they like, and the vehicles that they are ready to ‘x’ off their list. VIRTUAL…MEDICINE? Medical visits sometimes went remote during the pandemic. It wasn’t uncommon for medical professionals to schedule virtual therapy sessions (for psychologists) or even virtual check-ups when the situation was appropriate. Could the virtual visit become a mainstay? Or could patients put on a headset to meet up with doctors or therapists? Anything is possible. Virtual reality is being used, however, by psychologists to help patients experience situations without placing them in harm’s way. Virtual reality allows patients who may suffer from anxiety or agoraphobia to safely confront their fears in virtual reality. For example, someone who fears driving may be able to drive in virtual reality before actually going on the road. Virtual reality also is used by doctors for training purposes. And maybe in the future this technology could be used in medical schools for some training. In fact, using virtual reality for medical school education during Covid was suggested in a paper published by the Resident Student Organization. VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES While the pandemic ushered in numerous virtual tours and trips, other virtual experiences could become a reality, too. During the worst of Covid, gone were nights out, including trips to the movies, bar crawls, concerts, theme park visits and other recreational events that kept the weekends busy. Concerts went virtual as favorite musicians hosted performances from their home or other locales. Could concerts go virtual? Or sporting events? While the in-person experience will probably be greatly embraced once herd immunity hits, some individuals may like the concept of virtually plugging into an event. Most everyone has experienced a time when they were unable to make an event. Maybe they scored tickets to a major baseball game or a sold-out concert only to have a babysitter cancel. What if virtual became an option? If you can’t make the in-person event but have tickets, what if the future holds virtual seats? This could mean that the attendee wears a headset and enters the venue virtually. They see the game or concert as if they were there! The concept could be incredibly cool. Will it happen? Who knows! VIRTUAL MEETINGS For many employees, work-from-home may be the new office…for good. Some companies have seen how much financial savings goes along with not having employees in the office. Maybe companies have noticed that employees are more productive. Covid might have changed the working environment for these companies. Virtual meetings and meet-ups could be the future. Automotive companies have used virtual reality to review car designs in a virtual environment. Businesses use virtual conferencing platforms like Zoom to host meetings and stay in touch. Synergizing could mean virtual meetings in the future! Just be sure to pick a great background! VIRTUAL LEARNING For some children, virtual learning was an amazing opportunity. Others didn’t fare so well. Schools may be more open to embracing a virtual learning environment for the future. Online colleges are already a reality. Perhaps the online learning that was forced upon schools becomes a doorway to more virtual learning opportunities. Imagine if many universities started offering virtual classes full-time for students. This could save a tremendous amount of money on housing and other costs. The idea of virtual learning also could make college more accessible to some students. What if elementary or middle school offered virtual options? For students who struggle in the classroom, this could open up a new way of learning. VIRTUAL DRIVING AR Post pointed out that self-driving cars may be the future. We already see AI driving the future, and a self-driving car probably isn’t far from reality. Many companies—and tech giants—are working toward a car that drives autonomously. So perhaps we should all get ready to relinquish our driver’s seat! While many are eyeing the future with self-driving cars, what this will look like is anyone’s best guess. If self-driving cars become the norm, maybe the roads look different. Will self-driving cars all be electric? Will gas stations become obsolete? The reality of a virtual reality car is that for the roads to become entirely driverless will require a LOT of safety features within the car. A self-driving car will need to understand the future maneuvers of other self-driving cars. The car will need to become incredibly intelligent, understanding not only the basics of movement and acceleration but also the rules of the road, too. The car will need to know who has the right of way. It will need to be programmed with GPS components. While virtual reality is taking the driver’s seat in our automobiles and accelerating into the fast lane of commerce, too, the virtual future isn’t coded in certainty. Technology evolves quickly, and the design of the virtual future is still a blurred vision…but it is going to be coded with excitement!
Why Consumers Need Virtual Car Showrooms
The case for virtual car showrooms isn’t a tough one to make in the automotive industry. Manufacturers and dealerships understand that Covid shifted the playing field. Online shopping became the safe option for many consumers, and necessity might have played a major part of the shift, too. During the pandemic—which is still raging on—many businesses that were deemed non essential might have been closed. States and even cities had different restrictions, however. Some cities issued lockdowns while others didn’t even mandate masks. Consumers had to adjust their daily habits to meet the mandates of their area while also acting to protect their own health. Online shopping may have become the safe option for many who simply didn’t want to shop in potentially crowded and sometimes cleaned-out stores. During the height of the pandemic, grocery store shelves were stripped of toilet paper, paper towels and canned goods. Meat sections were cleared. Shoppers might have been forced to get creative with meals…and paper goods, too. Perhaps bidets began to look like an appealing upgrade. Online stores might have been a welcome respite from the possible chaos of in-store experiences. Virtual shopping also meant no exposure to others. For shoppers who were on the hunt for bigger purchases like cars, searching online might have been the only option if local dealerships were closed. SHOPPING FOR A CAR WHEN DEALERSHIPS WEREN’T OPEN Those in need of a new car during the height of pandemic restrictions might have had few options for browsing. Dealerships often offered slideshows or photos of vehicles on their lot. Yet, pictures don’t tell the whole…picture. The one-dimensional flat image gives the shopper a basic look at the car. Even photos of the interior can offer shoppers with what the car looks like. However, interactions via photos aren’t so enticing or exciting. Visitors to a dealership site click a picture, view it, and move on. What did the car shopping experience look like before Covid? For many new car hunters, the process might have been involved. Maybe the hunt involved visits to many different dealerships. Buyers may or may not have had an idea about the type of car they wanted, and this lack of direction might have further complicated the search. Procuring a loan also was part of the buying experience for many on the hunt for a new or used car. Some buyers may not have been easily—or quickly—approved. According to a press release announcing the findings of the “2019 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey” study, the average car buyer went to 2.3 car dealerships. Cox Automotive also reported that even before Covid, online shopping was experiencing an uptick. The 2019 press release noted that “Car buyers spend an estimated 61% of active shopping time online….” The time benefit of online shopping also may hold appeal for buyers. The in-store experience can be frustrating especially when dealing with financing. Cox Automotive explained: “Buyers who negotiate and complete their required paperwork online are notably more satisfied with the buying process, as are those who spend less than 2 hours total at the dealership.” During Covid, many shoppers couldn’t possibly make even one visit to a dealership. When dealerships were closed, though, business couldn’t just grind to a halt. Buyers still needed and wanted cars. Yet, they needed a way to browse and interact with the vehicles. Augmented and virtual reality showrooms became a solution to the need for a new browsing experience. While pictures and photo slideshows could still be a part of the vehicle presentation, interactive online showrooms provided an immersive shopping experience for the consumer. Virtual Car Showrooms [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Virtual-Car-Showrooms2.jpg] AUGMENTED VS. VIRTUAL: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE Prior to Covid, some dealerships and manufacturers offered interactive user experiences via virtual reality or augmented reality. These types of showrooms did exist before the pandemic, but the need for them was likely exacerbated by the health mandates of states and cities. There might have been different platforms available to the car buying consumer during the online experience. Shoppers could have been immersed in a virtual reality car showroom or experienced their browsing via augmented reality. What’s the difference between these two technologies? Aren’t they the same? Augmented and virtual reality are two very different experiences, but both can be used for a car showroom online. In fact, RelayCars offers both an augmented reality showroom and a virtual reality showroom; users can choose the platform that works best for them. The difference between augmented and virtual reality is the environment. In virtual reality showrooms, the entire showroom exists virtually. Users can enter the virtual showroom by wearing a virtual reality headset or it could be a destination that’s available on a website (no headset necessary). Headsets actually allow the user to feel that they are in another place, while an online static experience simply allows the user to interact via a virtual environment. In contrast, augmented reality car showrooms typically allow the user (or shopper) to place a vehicle into the user’s own unique environment. With augmented reality, the user can place an SUV on a bed, in the garage or even next to a tree. The user gets to choose the environment. In virtual reality, though, the environment is created for the user…and it exists virtually. One technology isn’t inherently better than the other. Some users prefer virtual experiences, others like the unique mixed reality of augmented reality showrooms. Both types of showrooms may be offered via a website or an app. Virtual reality showrooms can allow the user to walk around a car, look inside the vehicle and view other features, too. Augmented reality showrooms provide similar options. In addition, the user also may be able to change paint colors or maybe add unique features to the car. Augmented reality and virtual reality showrooms and experiences existed before Covid. Ferrari designed an app to be used in the physical dealership to allow buyers to change aspects of the vehicles on the showroom floor. With the app, the paint hues and other features could be changed. Users also could see inside the mechanics of the vehicle. Virtual Car Showrooms [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Virtual-Car-Showrooms.jpg] VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY SIMPLIFY THE CAR HUNT The ease of online virtual and augmented reality experiences might have streamlined the car shopping experience. While it is true that some shoppers might have gone online out of necessity, as the restrictions eased, shoppers might have been more comfortable with online experiences…even for large purchases. Habit breeds comfort, and months of lockdown for some consumers might have also meant months of getting intimately acquainted with online shopping. During Covid, some dealerships might have been forced to take the entire buying process online—including the financing. Some places might not have been able to handle financing online. Regardless of how much of the buying process was and is completed in an online space, the prevalence of virtual and augmented reality might have forever impacted shopping experiences for the better. While it remains to be seen how dealerships handle online offerings post-Covid (since we’re still in the midst of the pandemic), sites like RelayCars remain a fixed space for those who prefer to browse online. Even if dealerships can’t or don’t wish to continue to host a virtual showroom, shoppers may look to other online resources to do their research before heading to a dealership. Consumers might look online during their car shopping hunt to find what makes and models interest them, fit the budget and meet their needs. Aesthetics matter to many consumers, but, ultimately, the price has to be right, too. Online resources including dealership sites offer data that consumers need to help figure out their ideal vehicle. Before the pandemic, dealership sites were one of the go-to destinations to find information about the available deals, rebates and sales. Consumers could use these online sites as tools to compare and contrast prices. Virtual and augmented reality car showrooms add yet another layer to the consumer’s research toolbox. When deciding between two competing brands of sedans, consumers could visit an online showroom to gain more information about the features or the interior specs. Little details could make a big difference, and while pictures are beneficial, they don’t tell the whole story about a vehicle. Using virtual and augmented reality experiences, shoppers can walk around the vehicle, step inside and glance at the unique features of each model. The consumer can use these experiences to whittle down their wish list; dealership visits may then become more thoughtful. The old way of shopping for a car was, for many, an endeavor. The hunt for the perfect ride might have included visits to multiple dealerships, several test drives and many, many walks around the sales lots. As dealerships began to develop savvier marketing materials online, more resources were readily available via websites. Consumers have been able to browse pictures of cars online for years; now, though, the rise of virtual and augmented reality has simplified the search once more.
A Virtual Reality Showroom Lets Consumers Preview Clothes, Cars & More
Virtual reality is transforming how consumers shop for goods and services. When retail went remote via online platforms during Covid, consumers took their credit cards to the virtual realm. The remote shopping experience might have been the norm for many shoppers who were already used to perusing web sites and clicking buy, but for other consumers the online experience was something new to navigate. While dressing rooms for clothes and showrooms for cars might have seemed untenable online, technology delivered a virtual experience to simulate the in-person experiences. A Virtual ‘try-on’ experience and a virtual reality showroom provides consumers with a way to visualize their purchase before finalizing the buy. Here’s how businesses across different industries used virtual reality to help customers with their online shopping and helped them finalize their purchasing decisions. VIRTUAL…FASHION AND BEAUTY Vogue Business highlighted numerous fashion and beauty brands that were embracing the ‘virtual shopping’ experience. And, as Vogue noted, these experiences didn’t force shoppers to pop on a bulky headset. Some of the big beauty and fashion names that ventured into virtual included Charlotte Tilbury, Farfetch and Intermix. Visiting Charlotte Tilbury’s web site opens shoppers up to more than just their products. Consumers also can book a virtual consultation for advice and guidance on skincare and makeup. The company also features live beauty events; these classes are free, but interested individuals need to register for a ticket. Registration is limited, and, for the lucky individuals who claim a spot, classes offer tutorials and beauty tips (one of the most recent classes focuses on “how to create an airbrush glow”). Farfetch offers shoppers luxury brands at great prices. To add to the shopping experience, however, visitors also can visit the Farfetch AZ Factory. Clicking on this destination gives shoppers a unique experience; a truck opens to reveal a virtual pop-up shop experience. Shoppers can click on a link that directs them to a new collection. In addition, the virtual pop-up shop features interactive elements; visitors can click images in the virtual shop to see future offerings. Intermix, which offers high-end luxury brands like Nanushka, Staud and Balmain (among many others), provides shoppers with the option to virtually interact with a stylist. Many sites offer a customer service rep online, Intermix provides advice onsite. Not sure what shoes to purchase to pair with a particular dress? Ask a stylist! Sites offering online guidance, classes and virtual experience provide customers with a reason to stay engaged with their site. Not only do these enhanced site features add to the user experience and engagement, but they also could encourage return visits and might have an impact on the shopper completing their purchase. In the case of Intermix, offering a stylist online can help shoppers who are on the fence about a particular purchase. If you’re investing in a very high-end garment, the price per wear may be quite high if the item can’t be worn often. Many choose investment pieces for their quality and wearability. A stylist may be able to advise how that item could be paired with other pieces in the wardrobe. Or maybe the stylist could suggest other pieces by the same designer that would complement the potential purchase. Maybe the shopper is unsure what color would best suit their complexion. Offering expertise elevates the experience and can provide guidance and support to a weary shopper. Beauty classes like those offered by Charlotte Tillbury could entice shoppers to try new products. The class about the “airbrush glow” might appeal to someone who wants to try out new looks. Products highlighted and used in the class might encourage more purchases. After all, shoppers who are trying to replicate a look would likely want the products used to create the featured look. A Virtual Reality Showroom Lets Consumers Preview Clothes, Cars & More [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/image.jpeg] VIRTUAL TRY-ON EXPERIENCES Some stores offered a more immersive option for their online customers. Virtual try-on experiences or virtual dressing rooms allowed shoppers to preview outfits when they couldn’t visit the actual store. Business Insider reported that both Adidas and Macy’s offered virtual fitting rooms. So what do these experiences look like? Per Business Insider, shoppers have to download Zeekit, an app that facilitates the virtual experience. Using the app, they can virtually preview their new purchase before buying. However, not all brands are offered via the app; shoppers can find all the available brands via Zeekit’s website. It’s free to download the app! Zeekit’s app is truly virtual. While augmented reality takes a real life background and adds virtual elements as graphic overlays, Zeekit allows users to download a photo and try on clothes in a virtual environment. No goggles or headsets are required! A Virtual Reality Showroom Lets Consumers Preview Clothes, Cars & More [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/image-1.jpeg] VIRTUAL SHOWROOMS The car shopping experience also went online during Covid, and the online car buying experience was likely something new for shoppers. While online shopping for clothes, electronics and other goods has been quite common for decades, buying a car online hasn’t been the norm. Some shoppers may visit several dealerships before finding the car of their dreams…at the right price. And it probably wasn’t uncommon for shoppers to take a few test drives of their favorite cars. Even the models that weren’t favorites might have been perused in the showroom or on the lot. Shoppers probably took a seat behind the wheel or played with unique features in different makes and models. Car buying was truly a sensory experience. Shoppers sat in the car. They explored the many features. And, of course, the waft of new car smell added to the excitement of the potential purchase. Buying a car also meant testing it on the road; did it have a lot of get-up-and-go? Was the car comfortable to drive? All these details likely played a part in the decision. When Covid stopped businesses from operating, many dealerships had to close to foot traffic. Surviving the pandemic and its economic effects meant adapting and taking business online. Dealerships couldn’t let hundreds of shoppers open up the cars, sit inside and take numerous test drives. The shopping experience had to be safe; this meant sanitizing cars before and after test drives, which also might have had to be scheduled ahead of time. Sometimes dealerships even delivered the cars to the customer for a ‘virtual test drive.’ Browsing cars online also had to be accessible and tactile…even when the in-person shopping experience couldn’t be completely replicated virtually. Virtual showrooms were offered by dealerships online to let customers explore the vehicles on their lot. Some dealerships might have just had a photo slideshow, while others had full interactive and immersive showroom experiences. Dealerships that couldn’t offer a virtual showroom online could refer potential customers to RelayCars. The site offered numerous makes and models in a virtual environment. The cars could be rotated for different angles and providing customers with unique vantage points. Paint hues could be changed, and online shoppers could open the doors of the vehicle and look inside at the different features. Although consumers couldn’t physically touch the cars, they could interact with the vehicle online. If they were interested, they could then contact their local dealership for more information about the car or to perhaps schedule a test drive. Virtual showrooms provide customers a way to sort through different models and car options to find their favorites. Interacting with the vehicle—even just virtually—allowed the consumer to collect information about a particular model and decide whether or not they wanted to see the car up close. Some shoppers were happy to keep their car shopping completely virtual. A shopper might have previewed a car via a virtual showroom, scheduled the car to be delivered for a test drive and then completed loan paperwork online, too (if that was an option in their state). Car dealerships even delivered the car to the home! THE VIRTUAL FUTURE Even when Covid becomes a worry of the past, businesses might have pivoted to virtual experiences permanently. Shoppers may once again be able to visit stores in-person and try on clothes, but virtual experiences may always have a place in the user experience. Before Covid, online shopping surged in popularity. According to Statista: “In 2019, an estimated 1.92 billion people purchased goods or services online. During the same year, e-retail sales surpassed 3.5 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide….” Online shopping is convenient. For those who just don’t want to drive to the store or simply don’t have the time, online experiences provide a way to find needed—and wanted—items without leaving home. Clothes, makeup and even cars are delivered right to the door. Elevated online experiences may keep visitors engaged with the site. Stylists and other experts may offer their services to provide guidance and advice on purchases. Classes can introduce new experiences to customers and perhaps leave them wanting more products and interactive offerings to add engagement. Those on the hunt for bigger purchases—including a new car—also can utilize virtual showrooms to preview and explore new makes and models, allowing the shopper to whittle down their choices and pursue only the vehicles that are top on their purchase list. Although car shopping may return to in-person experiences, the virtual showroom may continue to be a relevant tool for customers who are just beginning to search for a new vehicle; in the future, dealership visits may be more thoughtful, with consumers knowing ahead of the visit which cars are on their must-have list…and which models don’t meet their needs.