Car sales have something of a reputation for being fast
moving and high on hard sell, eager to seize on every innovation that might
help to drive profits up and bonuses even more so. It might not be obvious how
the medium of virtual reality can help with this industry-wide goal, but the
fact remains that car industry moguls have seized on the new virtual reality
technology as a sales tool that is revolutionising the way cars are sold.
At present, ‘in real life’ choosing a new car is quite limited. You can look online and find broadly the type of car you want and can afford, and then you find the nearest dealership that sells a range somewhere along the lines of the vehicle that you’re looking for. On site, you wander around, looking at all the different cars – many of them looking surprisingly similar up close and in person, with any differences quite hard to ascertain. Then comes choosing a few vehicles to test drive – and most customers have admitted that they test drive an average of only two cars. Up to 61% of buyers can be put off by a bad test drive – and these are often when they are being driven by the salesperson, as per company policy.
There are many other features that can make a vehicle ‘the one’ or not, including the whole palette of colours, any number of optional extras and even different interior layouts that can be explored.
It is, understandably, impossible to show a customer the full range of interiors, exteriors, special features and extras in the dealership, in the course of an hour or two. This means that many sales are lost because the customer can’t find exactly what they wanted, or because they can’t envision their preferences all together in one vehicle.
With virtual and augmented reality, a relatively small space can be used to show the full range of vehicles kitted out to the customers’ specifications. A simulator can be laid out to mirror any number of vehicles, with everything from a sunshine yellow interior to an ear-thumping series of speakers. When the customer can change the look and feel of their ‘new car’ as well as drive it themselves, taking familiar routes or new, exciting ones, taking the vehicle up to whatever speeds they like, then it is far more likely that they will purchase that real-life vehicle, satisfied that they will be getting the car of their dreams and knowing exactly how it will look, feel and even smell - simulators can have ‘new car’ scent embedded into them, making sure that the experience is an authentically realistic one.