3D Car Configurators, VR & AR-Enabled Online Sales: Revolutionizing the Future of Car Shopping

One late afternoon during a meeting, one of our ColorWhistle developers happened to share their first experience of buying a car in the early 2000s. Comparing this to a very recent experience, made me realize how rapidly the future of car shopping is moving online and how well ColorWhistle is placed to help related businesses to sell online. With the advent of 3D car configurators, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR), the automotive industry is undergoing a remarkable evolution.

Gone are the days of static images and limited options; now, you can immerse yourself in a dynamic and interactive car-buying experience. Discover how these innovative tools redefine convenience, personalization, and excitement as you embark on a journey to find your perfect car, both online and offline.

Today, the journey of purchasing a passenger automobile typically lasts 5-12 weeks. It involves potential customers going through multiple channels, devices, and touch points before they make a final choice. The after-sales service market is equally large and expanding its online presence to attract millennials seems profitable. 

Here’s where digital channels gain the most importance with 92 percent of potential car buyers researching online before purchase. Thus, calling for better ways to configure and visualize the products online and mapping the digital customer journey in the automotive industry. 

This blog is not just limited to automobile dealerships and workshops looking to expand their online presence but also caters to marketers involved with information aggregators to build the right tech stack for their websites. 

How Are 3D Car Configurators Making Car Customization Online Easy?

Automobile end-consumers have certainly gone past the “tipping point” of digital change to arrive at digital transformation. They seek out a true 3D car configurator for customizing beyond basic options like the car model, and color. In this section, let’s explore some advanced product visualizers and configurators types for the automotive industry. 

I. ‘Nested’ 3D Car Configurators

Nested configuration allows the mixed arrangement of several configurators into one. While the primary 3D car configurator lets consumers choose options like off-road vehicles or sports cars, several secondary configurators placed with it allow for customization of body kits, spoilers, fenders, fitments, or accessories like floor mats and seat covers. 

‘Nested’ 3D Car Configurators - ColorWhistle

This nested configuration strategy translates to

  • Simplification of complex sales cycles for configurable products.
  • Easy reuse of configurable components in multiple different contexts.

II. ‘Parametric’ 3D Changer – Car Configurators for Car Wrappers 

In the automobile industry, more often than ever, consumers will have to choose between parts and accessories with pre-determined sizes and measurements. However, 3D car customization online can include some options and accessories that aren’t part of the vehicle itself, like car wraps and graphics design on the car body. 

Here are Parametric configurators that create made-to-order personalized products with exact specifications of each individual parameter. It can be connected to Configure-Price-Quote and linked to live-pricing calculations.

The parametric configurator strategy translates to user empowerment and better control over the final product. It is best suited to meet the requirements of the automotive after-sales service market.

III. Simple ‘Preset’ 3D Configurators 

Some consumers show more interest in customizing add-ons and accessories than to change the body, engine, or car itself. 

Here is where preset 3D configurators can be created where templates with standard features are offered. It will allow the consumers to focus more on things that matter to them the most, like entertainment systems, seat covers, and floor mats.  

Advanced 3D Car Visualizers Boost Consumer Confidence

Displaying static or even 360° photos may not be enough. High-quality visuals can be a deal-breaker for 3D car customization online. In this section, let’s explore some advanced product visuals for cars and even auto parts. 

I. Real-Time Using Augmented Reality

Audi is the first automobile manufacturer to use 3D visualization in its product configurator. Rather than the static images used in the past, we were excited to try out a 360-degree view of the Audi e-tron in real-time, directly via the Audi website. And we loved the whole experience! 

Real-Time Using Augmented Reality - 3D Car Configurator ColorWhistle

AR integrated with product configurators allows the users to visualize their customized car in real-time. Using a compatible device with a camera, users can instantly and accurately visualize the size of the vehicle in their driveway or garage, along with other features.

II. Virtual Reality Car Showrooms

We took a tour of the Mercedes-Benz Virtual Reality (VR) car showroom in Lebanon at the comfort of our office in India. And the overall experience exceeded our expectations! 

Virtual Reality Car Showrooms - 3D Car Configurators, VR & AR-Enabled Online Sales ColorWhistle
Mercedes-Benz Car Showroom in Lebanon in VR

VR car showrooms not just allow you to walk around the place but also view the interiors of the car, thereby emulating the real-life experience to perfection. Using various VR applications and compatible hardware, users can see all features, hear the engine roar, and even drive any model. 

The business advantage of deploying VR is that the unavailable model or add-ons can still be on showcase as walk-in customers may demand. This may also result in a higher conversion rate and at the same time overcome inventory issues. 

III. Virtual Test Drives

360° videos are trending and millennials are loving it. Millennials are also known to extensively search online and watch numerous “test-drive” videos on YouTube before deciding to visit their nearest car dealership.

360 Degree View in 3D - 3D Car Configurators, VR & AR-Enabled Online Sales ColorWhistle

In fact, over 64 percent of shoppers who watch review videos online would buy a car without a test drive. It is here where most automotive marketers find an opportunity to augment traditional brochures with Virtual Test Drives to attract millennials. 

Virtual Test Drives are nothing but 360-degree videos detailing various car interior or exterior features, or even driving experiences from a first-person perspective. 

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Mapping the Digital Customer Journey in the Automotive Industry

End customers are increasingly comfortable doing business online, and so, buying a car online is no exception. Let’s mark the digital customer journey in the Automotive industry to understand the above assertion better. 

Digital Customer Journey In Automotive Industry - 3D Car Configurators, VR & AR-Enabled Online Sales - ColorWhistle

Phase I involves the proactive use of Local SEO, and PPC strategy to appear higher on the search engine result page (SERP). All marketing channels including websites, Google My Business profile, and popular social media channels must offer the most recent guidance around hours, available services, prices, and more. 

When it comes to Content Marketing in the automotive industry, YouTube is the most preferred channel. The latest trends show that people engage the most in the following content styles: 

  • Maintenance: Aimed at enthusiasts, it provides a specific type of vehicle maintenance or repair. 
  • Vlogs: Provides personal connection or perspective to automotive-related topics. 
  • Educational: May include buying guides or shopping guides for car shoppers. 
  • Reviews: Focussed on specific vehicles or comparisons between similar vehicles.  

Make sure your automotive business is reaching the target audience during the research phase. Consult a seasoned SEO expert to boost your strategy!

We have already discussed Phase II in detail which involves a dedicated tech partnership with a reputed website development agency. Phase III involves the integration of custom website plugins while Phase IV uses the most popular online marketing services. 

At ColorWhistle, our professional teams can establish powerful web visibility with compelling website design elements for any business. Consider partnering with our team by just dropping a message or giving us a call at +1 (210) 787-3600 or +44 (757) 853-6333 or +91 (944) 278-9110. 

We are here to extend our support to you! 

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve had the chance to explore our blog, it’s time to take the next step and see what opportunities await!

Manav Gupta
About the Author - Manav Gupta

Manav Gupta is a full-time CopyWriter at ColorWhistle, where he works to benefit both professionals & enthusiasts in the field of Digital Marketing, Branding & Web Development by creating engaging content. Prior to joining ColorWhistle, Manav was responsible for managing & executing content projects ranging from sales collateral to web content, ad copy to letters, business proposals to sales plans, and training manuals. A graduate of a reputed university, Manav holds an honors degree in Engineering. When not hard at work creating meaningful content, he enjoys perfecting his knowledge of music, playing cricket, and volunteering to build a carbon-neutral society.

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