Immersive and interactive content can engage customers as they visit web pages to explore vehicles and their new car options. Many dealerships offer standard photo slideshows for vehicles on their lot, in their inventory and via their showroom.
Yet, are slideshows the most memorable content that dealerships can offer? Today’s customers—especially younger shoppers—crave a more immersive interaction online. Consumers are now utilizing augmented reality during shopping experiences to preview new products and narrow down options.
Think beyond the slideshow of photos. With a 360 virtual tour, car interior and exterior features come alive and enhance the user experience (UX). Here’s how dealerships can use these images online to aid the buyer’s online journey and keep them engaged.
The Journey Starts Online
Covid turned the buying journey upside down. While the car buying process typically involved dealership visits to take test drives and explore vehicles in-person, many dealerships couldn’t remain open to foot traffic. The solution was to take business online.
However, even before Covid the car buying journey likely began online. Buyers researched their options and visited third-party sites to gain information about pricing, reviews, and maybe even safety ratings, too.
Cox Automotive’s Car Buyer Journey Study Pandemic Edition revealed that buyers spent more than seven hours online researching and shopping for cars. The study also noted that the dealership sites were typically the last online destination these buyers visited.
What keeps buyers on-site, though? While the study didn’t delve into what heightened engagement, the tech habits of younger generations could point to a few answers. In fact, Gen Z was noted as the ‘AR Generation’ by ARTLABS.
While this younger generation uses AR for entertainment on social media sites like Instagram, ARTLABS explains that this tech also can be used to help younger buyers with their decision-making. Many businesses use augmented reality to offer preview experiences to buyers; products can be placed in the real environment or even show up on the face (in the case of cosmetics).
While a 360 virtual tour isn’t augmented reality, it does offer a similar immersive and exploratory design. This could appeal to younger buyers—including younger millennials—who crave a more user-oriented shopping experience.
How Can Dealerships Integrate 360 Virtual Tours?
Dealerships shouldn’t assume that photo slideshows are passé. They are still a great resource for shoppers to get more information about specific car features. In fact, dealerships should consider including extensive slideshows that provide shoppers with as many interior and exterior details as possible.
Yet, slideshows might not be enough data or interaction for younger buyers who want more unique experiences. This is how 360 virtual tours, car interior and exterior features become influential tools online.
How do dealerships create 360 virtual tours? EVOX Images offers 360 spin photos for thousands of models. These photos include both interior and exterior virtual tours.
Exterior spin photos are a 3D model representation of a vehicle. Online visitors can use a mouse or their fingertip to turn the image around in all directions to view it from any vantage point.
These spin photos showing the exterior of the car can create a simulated walkaround experience that a buyer would enjoy in the dealership. However, 360 spin photos can be used and enjoyed at any time and from anywhere.
A buyer can sit at home and visit the dealership site. Then they can use their mouse or their finger to interact with their favorite models. It’s an easy and fun experience; it also is an experience that not all dealerships include. These photos can help set a dealership apart from the local competition.
In addition, EVOX Images also offers 360 interior panorama photos. These images provide a virtual tour of a vehicle’s interior. Site visitors can interact with these photos using either their fingertip or a mouse (just like the 360 spin photos).
However, the panorama photos are designed to give users the feeling that they are sitting in the front seat of the vehicle and turning around or looking up. Interior photos let users check out the top of the vehicle, explore the backseat and even look at features like the infotainment screen.
Can Dealerships Use 360 Virtual Tours On Social Media?
While the dealership’s website might be the most ideal place to include 360 virtual tour photos, these images also can be incorporated in social media posts.
When placing spin photos on social media, make sure that users understand that these photos are interactive by noting that they are spin photos. Encourage users to explore the photos; dealerships also can use these photos as an immersive means to tease new models and build excitement.
Create Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality Experiences, Too
Generation Z might be the augmented reality generation, and dealerships can market experiences to this younger audience by creating augmented reality or virtual reality experiences that helps heighten engagement and the user experience. Images from EVOX Images can be used to create these experiences.
Dealerships could create a virtual reality showroom where users can explore models and walk around vehicles of their choice. Augmented reality experiences typically let the user drop a model of any vehicle into their environment. Augmented reality enables shoppers to view a car in their garage or their driveway.
Why are These Immersive Experiences and Photos Important?
Dealerships might wonder if they can simply just stick with the typical photo slideshows that they’ve always offered online. Again, these slideshows aren’t obsolete, but dealerships should attempt to integrate more immersive content.
Remember that buyers are now spending hours online researching and shopping for their ideal vehicle. The dealership websites are often their last online stop. Make this stop a memorable one.
Buyers want tools that let them better understand the vehicles. While pictures can help buyers see features up close, 3D models that are interactive let buyers see the vehicle from all angles. Interior panorama photos give an exploratory look at the inside of the model.
These experiences don’t just provide additional information about a vehicle, they are also fun. Virtual tours and interactive photos give buyers an excuse to engage; these experiences heighten the user experience and help set the dealership’s online hub apart from the competition.
If buyers stay on-site longer, they may move to the next step of the buying journey. After they have interacted with these unique experiences, they may reach out to the sales team online or set up an appointment to view their favorite cars.
However, dealerships need to ensure that their site is user friendly and helps facilitate the buyer taking the next step. Can buyers easily contact a member of the dealership’s sales team online? Is there an easy communication tool on the website (like a chat function)?
Even if the dealership offers creative experiences that engage the user, if the site is cumbersome in other ways, the buyer might move on. Review the website and its functionality when adding immersive features and virtual tours. Create experiences that heighten the user experience but also focus on simplifying the communication process online, too.
Make the site easy to navigate, keep the content engaging and create the most simplistic process for the buyer to reach out to the dealership. While user experience is important, so is moving the buyer to the next step of the process.