Driving a new direction for car sales using AR
BY CATHERINE HOPKINS
AR (Augmented Reality) can offer a ‘try before you buy’ experience for customers. For the automotive industry, AR provides car dealerships with unique opportunities to showcase their car models. Not only can AR improve the consumer’s product experience, it can also help car dealerships to sell cars. On average, customers would visit 3 showrooms before buying a car but now with information at their fingertips thanks to the internet, they tend to only visit one showroom. With most customers starting their purchase journey online, automotive retailers have had to adapt to changing customer behaviour, shifting from a product-driven to a customer-driven sales approach.
Showroom numbers are on the decline as online sales threaten them, and retail spaces will also be hit with an added blow of a £158.5 million increase in costs over the next five years. Car dealerships are now turning to AR to transform their showroom experiences. In fact, it’s predicted that the total automotive AR market is expected to reach $5.5 billion in 2022. Not only that, 72% of dealers will use immersive technology to present their products online and within showrooms by 2021.
How AR is being used
The automotive industry has been shown to be using AR since 2008, but only in recent years has it started to gain momentum as not just a marketing gimmick, but a tool to actually help with the customer experience.
Jeep has launched augmented reality (AR) technology into 800 of its European dealerships, allowing consumers to trial the Compass model months before its release. This offers customers the chance to change the car’s colour, alloys and interior all within a 3D space, shaping the car to your liking right in front of you with the help of AR. It gives a real feel experience as to how your tailor made car will look before it is even built. The customer experience team at Jeep believe that when AR enabled smartphone devices are more widely adopted, they can be used a “mass market selling tool” allowing customers to tour models in the comfort of their home. However they have no plans to shut down their showrooms to favour this alternative. Instead they combine the power of expert knowledge and guidance given from an in-store experience, with the ability for customers to take control over what they want to see.
Mercedes-Benz have been creating multiple AR applications. For their 2018 E-class and S-class cars, AR has been used to offer an alternative to a paper manual. The car owner or renter can use the app to scan the interior of the car to reveal information hot spots. Clicking on any of these indicators will provide information on specific features in the form of how-to videos, or a digital version of the owner’s manual. Online materials and paper manuals will rely on descriptions and diagrams, which can limit a customer’s understanding of how the car works and how to maintain it. By allowing customers to experience AR , they can be shown how the car’s features work from the driver’s seat.
Land Rover chose to use AR to increase their pre-sale numbers of a new car model they were advertising. When there was no model for customers to be able to experience hands on, Land Rover faced the challenge of creating enough excitement for their audience to be inspired to pre-order the model. The developed idea was designed to give customers a ‘test-drive’ without being behind the real wheel. As a result of the campaign, the AR stunt ultimately earned a 41 percent engagement rate and got Land Rover on pace to achieve their pre-order goals for the launch phase.
The Komodo Approach
Although AR has already started to be adopted by many car brands, they are mostly higher end brands and the experiences are limited to only a couple of car models. With AR becoming more accessible to smartphone users, more engaging experiences can be experimented with to a wider audience.
Here at Komodo, we’ve put together a small prototype to show how AR could be more widely used. Using car dealer brochures, a customer can scan a page of the car they want to learn more about, and image recognition will bring up a 3D model that allows customers to explore the car from all angles. Hotspots can reveal notable features of the car, and personalisation features will make the 3D model change right in front of them. From there, a customer can go on to book a test drive. Their personalised car features can be saved and sent to the dealer too so their order is set up ready for them.
Experiences like this create an interactive experience that is intuitive, memorable and meaningful to the end user. It has been proven that AR can nearly double the levels of engagement for a user. This shows just how powerful a tool AR can be to surprise and delight a customer.
We help teams across the UK deliver successful digital projects. If you’d like to have a conversation with us, we’ll put the kettle on.