Here’s How to Utilize Virtual Car Shopping During COVID-19
April 18, 2020
As we all navigate through the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the closure of non-essential businesses, including car dealerships. This may have temporarily thrown a wrench in the plans of those whose lease was ending or those immediately due for a new vehicle. The act of social distancing is more important now than ever, and as we commit to staying home and safe, there are ways to use this time to still properly prepare for future vehicle purchases. In fact, the ability to use virtual and augmented reality to change the entire car shopping experience, right from home, is huge. The New Stay at Home Process The history of the car dealership goes back over 100 years, and despite the huge advancements we have seen in vehicle technology, the customer’s car buying journey has remained largely unchanged up until now. According to a recent study by Cox Automotive, 83% of consumers want to do one or more steps of the car purchase process online and 7 out of 10 are more likely to buy from a dealership if they could start the process online. As these shopping habits show just how significant the online process has become, utilizing new technologies will significantly help cater to the needs of us staying at home right now. During self-isolation, the way consumers are able to educate themselves on potential vehicles ahead of time is crucial to cutting down time spent on the dealer lot once they do open back up. These consumers are already using platforms like third-party automotive websites, and the likes of Google and YouTube to research their next car and begin the process online. These customers rely on the internet to keep them informed, and now, there is great opportunity to offer even more informative ways to shop for cars. The Wonders of a Virtual Showroom For those not as familiar with the difference between the two, virtual reality uses a headset or mobile device to create a fully immersive 3D experience. Augmented reality places digital images onto a user’s view of the real world, most often through a smartphone. Both VR and AR create digital worlds that take the user on a journey, whether they are playing a game or shopping. And when it comes to car shopping, simply just looking at images of cars online ahead of a dealership visit is no longer going to cut it. Consumers will want to view vehicles features up close, examine every angle, and truly experience a potential car before purchase. With virtual and augmented reality technologies, this process is entirely disrupted — for the better. By using virtual reality car shopping technology, consumers can view 360° views of any car they are interested in, right from their homes. These views include interior and exteriors shots, and can be accessed from mobile phones, tablets, or even simply through a website. With this simple step added, users are transported to that virtual car showroom, completely transforming how they view and interact with potential cars and turning research into a full experience, rather than just a basic process with standard imagery or video. Apps such as RelayCars are already offering these services, including thousands of stereoscopic vehicle views. In fact, a high-quality VR library of assets is essential to helping out customers who cannot go to the dealer right now, and ultimately changing the future of car shopping as we know it. And it doesn’t stop at VR. With augmented reality technology, users can project and view a potential car from their phone straight into their living room or driveway, viewing it in a real-life setting within moments. Even just 10 or 15 years ago, this type of research taking place before ever stepping foot on a dealership lot was unheard of. This process brings the dealership to the customer during a time when they cannot leave home. Think of how many steps there are once you arrive onsite at the dealership – there’s the initial viewing of vehicles, a test drive portion, paperwork, price negotiation, and even more. With the ability to use virtual and augmented reality to view vehicles right from home, customers are now entering a whole new world. These processes help customers to optimize time then spent on the dealer lot, and create a way to be respectful of not only their time, but the dealer’s time too. Once you are able to finally get behind the wheel of a car for a test drive, any questions you had during this research phase will immediately start to be answered, making this process truly come full circle. Researching your future car doesn’t have to take a back seat while physical dealer locations are closed. In fact, proper preparation through AR and VR is key to changing the future of the overall dealership experience as we know it. Once lots open back up, the days of spending hours upon hours at a car dealership will be behind us. RelayCars is available online and for download at the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. ### The potential of virtual and augmented reality car shopping is vast, whether a car shopper is exploring the latest models in their living room or being guided through a virtual tour of a vehicle’s features in the showroom. However, to fully harness the possibilities of virtual reality car shopping, it is essential to choose the best applications and assets to build flexible, functional virtual showrooms. By partnering with pioneers in automotive VR technology, such as RelayCars and EVOX, dealers can ensure they have the resources they need to create compelling VR experiences. EVOX® Images offers the largest automotive virtual reality library, available for consumers to view through the RelayCars app. Contact our team or call us at 310-605-1400 to learn more about our innovative imaging solutions.
Get behind the wheel of your dream car without going to the dealership
January 31, 2020
Let’s face it – the thought of going to the dealership can be enough to dissuade you from looking at that shiny new car you’ve been eyeing. The car-buying process is traditionally overwhelming and unpleasant, with long hours and negotiations with tough salespeople on the show floor. The process is anything but ideal, and can be especially daunting to those who have never done it before. As time goes on, the in-dealership experience continues to be a point of contention for many car shoppers. According to a 2019 Cox Automotive study, when asked to compare their most recent buying experience to previous ones, 61% of car buyers said their experience was not any better – and in some cases, worse – than the last time they bought a car. This information shows that the process is not getting any better and has remained largely unchanged – until now. The Future of Car Showrooms What if you could get behind the wheel of your next dream car without ever leaving the couch? Naturally, you’ve already Googled the car, read some reviews, and viewed various images of the vehicle. This online process is about to get way more immersive, way more convenient, and honestly – way cooler. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR ) are now allowing us to step into vehicles and view entire specifications and features in a complete realistic way, all from the comfort of home and through everyday devices like our smartphones and tablets. Wondering what the interior of that new Porsche or Tesla looks like? With a virtual reality car showroom and a high-quality VR library, a potential car can be viewed and even customized within seconds. This technology can allow for views of VR car interiors, exterior spins of the vehicle, detailed features, and even the ability to compare vehicles side by side and change the paint colors of cars. The car can be viewed at all angles, as well as directly from the driver’s seat, and the options are endless. For example, the RelayCars® car VR app is powered by the most expansive and high-quality VR library on the market. With this research process, it’s much easier to walk into the dealership more informed and confident in choosing a vehicle. Not only that, but you will cut down on the time spent at the dealership, already knowing where each feature and button is located in your new car. Additionally, with online shopping and at-home delivery more common than ever, these virtual and augmented reality car showrooms can also include a ‘buy now’ feature that helps consumers to make a direct purchase to avoid the dealership entirely. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/ManequinVR_for_Bannersite_SIZE_TEST_4.png] Experience a Virtual Car Showroom, Anytime, Anywhere While corresponding, VR headsets such as the Oculus Go are still continuing to become more mainstream, users can simply get right into the driver’s seats of potential vehicles by using a “Magic Window” application to view the technology straight from a mobile device or tablet. With no headset required, this process is accessible and easy to use. Wondering what your new car will look like in your driveway or garage? Using AR technology, users can also place cars physically into real-world environments and feel like they are even walking around the perimeter of the car. As this technology evolves, some platforms may also begin to include ‘test drive’ options in realistic settings. According to Cox Automotive, 83% of consumers want to do one or more steps of the purchase process online and 7 out of 10 are more likely to buy from a dealership if they could start the process online. And, of course, this modern car shopping experience isn’t limited to just the home. Set locations, such as mall kiosks or specific help centers in stores, can acquire headsets and help guide consumers through the research process. When conducted by a dealership, the process can be started in these more casual environments and help to alleviate the anxiety and surrounding the physical car showroom. Summarizing the Key Benefits Ultimately, avoiding the dealership entirely sounds perfect, but that’s only just one major benefit to utilizing AR and VR technology to shop for your next car. Many car enthusiasts and everyday shoppers may eventually still choose to visit a physical showroom to sit in the car and drive it as the final step before purchase. However, when it comes down to it, this new research process shows it is quickly becoming the go-to option, with key advantages including: ● Accessibility – Once again, shoppers should not feel deterred by the fact that they don’t own a compatible AR or VR headset. Our standard devices are becoming more and more powerful and are able to display this advanced technology with no problem, right from home as well as on-the-go. As more and more locations adapt to this process, don’t be surprised if you begin seeing actual dealerships implementing onsite headsets and AR/VR experiences to help to finalize sales and save physical, inventory space on the lot. ● Brand Loyalty – Many shoppers have been buying the same model car for years, and will always choose to continue such brand loyalty each time they are ready for a new vehicle. Oftentimes, these buyers do not need to be sold on various models, and just want to see what is new and improved in the latest model of their already existing car. Perhaps the consumer wants the exact same car, but only wants to see what it would look like in a different color interior or exterior. Having the ability to view these latest models from home, in a realistic way, is the perfect scenario for brand loyalists. They are able to quickly view exactly what they will be getting and then go straight to their usual dealership to pick it up. ● Ease of Use – You don’t have to be the most tech-savvy person to get behind and utilize this trend. Just like using a typical phone app, cars can be viewed and customized with the simple swipe of a finger on a screen. ● Pacing Your Research – No one likes to feel rushed when deciding on a vehicle onsite at the dealership. Choosing a new car is a huge commitment and it’s important to take your time in order to make the right decision. With access to this technology from home, users may research as often as they want to, and for as long as they want to. ● Sharing the Decision-Making Process – Curious what your family or friends think about the car you’ve been eyeing? Don’t have time to bring them all to the dealership at the same time? This convenient process allows for users to easily involve others in decision-making, and set aside time at home to research and discuss together. ● Time and Convenience – Car buyers are spending less time shopping and fewer days in market, meaning they are making decisions more quickly. They are also visiting fewer dealerships, while the number of car buyers visiting only one dealership has increased significantly to 41% (up from 30% two years ago). Using an at-home, AR and VR research tool, shoppers are guaranteed to only have to visit one dealership, as they are more than likely to know ahead of time what they are going to purchase. ● Quality Information and Imagery – To reiterate, these vehicle views and panoramas are so much more than your standard, basic image. Having access to every angle of a car, inside and outside, is extremely valuable. Users will be surprised to see just how realistic, high-quality, and immersive this research process really is. ● Quick Comparisons and Customizations – Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the true difference between similar models within the same car brand. Using this technology to view vehicles directly side-by-side creates an invaluable way to compare and contrast physical and technological features across cars. ● Vast Selection – On the contrary, have you ever been deciding between two, different car brands and don’t have the time to visit two separate dealerships? With access to huge automotive, VR libraries, shoppers are not limited to a single manufacturer. They can easily research and compare vehicles within minutes and the simple click of a button. In a time when potential car shoppers are busier than ever, and services everywhere are becoming more convenient, automotive VR and AR technology is slated to transform the way we educate ourselves on vehicle choices. With this new wave of research options, your dream car is closer than you think. The potential of virtual reality car shopping is vast, whether a car shopper is exploring the latest models in their living room or being guided through a virtual tour of a vehicle’s features in the car showroom. However, to fully harness the possibilities of virtual reality car shopping, it is essential to choose the best applications and assets to build flexible, functional virtual showrooms. By partnering with pioneers in automotive VR technology, such as RelayCars® and Evox Images, dealers can ensure they have the resources they need to create compelling VR experiences. RelayCars® offers a truly immersive virtual automotive showroom experience. With unrivaled image quality and vehicle selection, RelayCars® is an indispensable tool for car shoppers and enthusiasts alike making it the next evolution for car research shopping. Contact our team or call us at 310-605-1400 to learn more about our innovative imaging solutions.