Virtual reality applications are a disruptive technology for the automotive industry because they’re in every segment. Researchers use them to develop new vehicles and make transportation safer. Technicians take advantage of the features they provide for streamlining repairs and services. VR even impacts the consumer’s purchase journey, as they visit showrooms and get in-depth looks at the available specs and options on vehicles.
Dealerships must be prepared to manage this new change as well. That means going beyond using VR as a novelty and instead, making it a central part of the sales process. Such applications can enhance consumer trust and ensure dealerships remain competitive in the new, high-tech marketplace.
Improving the Researching Phase
When it comes to finding a new vehicle, third-party sites are now the number one source for growing brand awareness and influencing financial purchase decisions. Consumers use multiple methods in their research, doing everything from looking up reviews on various vehicle owner forums to evaluating their safety features on sites like AAA.
Virtual reality applications are growing in popularity as one of these discovery avenues. To take advantage of this, dealerships should offer the consumer a downloadable app that they can try out at home to view vehicles in a showroom environment. Features may include the ability to get a 360-degree view of cars they’re considering, as well as customizable options.
Dealerships can offer these as downloads on their website as a way to introduce the consumer to their business. The value-add feature establishes increased trust and encourages the consumer to go to the physical location for the next stage in the purchase journey.
Enhancing the Physical Showroom
\At the dealership, virtual reality applications can be used to enhance the experience. For example, a consumer may want a particular model but desire features or color options that the dealership doesn’t have on hand. Using a VR-powered experience, the dealership could offer the consumer the ability to view these features and specifications through a headset or display.
Many Hyundai dealership locations, as an example, allow their salespeople to share VR experiences on iPads to help consumers better understand the various features and details of models they’re considering. This virtual look under the hood is a value-add service that makes them feel more comfortable about their understanding of the vehicle and its price.
These immersive experiences represent some major cost savings opportunities. There’s less investment in furnishing, heating, and lighting a large showroom. VR also allows the dealership to carry a smaller display model inventory, which saves costs on upkeep, insurance, and security. VR in the dealership allows salespeople to offer more to consumers at a lower cost, making them a win-win option.
Improving Sales Transparency and Consumer Trust
One big problem many salespeople have is explaining complex concepts to consumers in a way that allows them to visualize how it works accurately. These salespeople may get lost in jargon and industry terms as they try to explain something like adaptive cruise control or lane centering. Meanwhile, showing off these options during a test drive isn’t always safe. The consumer has to rely on what the salesperson says. This may create a sales barrier due to limited understanding.
However, virtual reality applications allow these salespeople to effectively demonstrate all the features of a vehicle—even ones that aren’t safe to try on the road. They can show the consumer everything under the hood and explain how it works with actions rather than words. This can create an additional level of transparency in car sales that improves consumer trust and makes them more willing to move forward.
Embracing Virtual Reality Applications
By understanding the new journey consumers take when hunting for a car through virtual reality applications, sellers will be best prepared to heighten the consumer experience. AR and VR are major automotive industry disruptors that can make car sales easier for everyone, from manufacturers to dealerships to consumers. Embracing them only makes sense for any seller that wants to maintain their competitive edge.