Tuesday, 27 October 2020 02:16

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Volkswagen Australia's 'World's Smallest Car Dealership' Opens with AR


Augmented Reality is allowing Australian car buyers to "try on" a new Volkswagen T-Roc or T-Cross in great detail, inside and out, and visualise it in their driveway, garage or elsewhere, at different sizes, as COVIDsafe buying of big ticket items online takes off in a big way! iTWire talks to CCMO Jason Bradshaw on video to find out more.

Studies show that Aussies are increasingly turning to online shopping, with this year’s events being a catalyst for more shoppers to go online for a wider range of things including big ticket items that have traditionally been sold in person, including cars, according to Volkswagen Australia.

The company says it has "seen these trends first-hand, having sold over 460 cars online to the value of $36 million since April, leading to the launch of the world’s smallest car dealership, an activation that highlights the need for more choice and convenience in the way Aussies shop for cars.

"The miniature dealership stands just 28cm tall but features a new Augmented Reality (AR) experience to bring an online showroom to consumers to allow them to ‘try on’ and then fully customise and buy a new car, without needing to leave their home.

"With more Aussies shopping online than ever during COVID-19, online sales have accelerated to 15%, up from 9%, and this is set to continue to average 25% by 2025. This influx in demand has seen Aussies not only embrace online shopping for the essentials but they are now also in the market for higher value items, with Google trends showing that searches for buying cars online have doubled since lockdown* and Volkswagen’s website traffic has had a record year in 2020, rising by 18% YOY."

Jason Bradshaw, Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, Volkswagen, says: “Many people wouldn’t think that Aussies are prepared to buy a car online, but they actually are, and the success of our online store is a testament to that.

"The launch of Volkswagen’s smallest dealership and AR experience is all about making buying a car online easier and more convenient so Aussies can find, test out and then customise the perfect car for them.”

Here is out video interview with Jason, who graciously answered our questions about the dealership, the AR experience and its level of detail, when the entire range will be in AR, where Volkswagen is using VR, advances in the internal computing and entertainment systems that are compatible with CarPlay and Android Auto, electric, hybrid and autonomous Volkswagens of the future, cars in 2030, great advice in life and his final message, which you can see below.

The article continues with great detail thereafter, so please read on!

So, what else does Volkswagen Australia have to say about the online shopping experience, buying big ticket items online, the touchless shopping experience, being COVIDsafe, pre-researching purchases online and plenty more?

Well, we're told that "research shows that the majority of Australians (60%) want retailers and brands to save them time when shopping, and with over 80% spending more time than ever pre-researching their purchases online, there is a growing importance for shoppers to be able to try out items digitally to feel comfortable they have found the right product for them before they take the plunge".

Then there's the AR experience.

Here, Volkswagen says "AR is playing an increasingly important role in consumer shopping experiences with 1 in 2 (49%) of Aussies saying they would like to use AR as part of their online purchasing to get a better feel for a product.

"Volkswagen’s new AR experience aims to tackle just that by helping transform the way people can shop for cars by bringing the immersive, smallest car dealership experience to Aussies, wherever they are.

"Volkswagen’s new AR experience uses the most advanced graphics for realism while letting Aussies choose their car colour and play with what it looks like on their driveway at the beach or supermarket, before diving inside to look at the interiors, all from the palm of their hands".

Commenting on the latest shopping trends, Anastasia Lloyd-Wallis, Consumer Behaviour Expert, Retail Doctor Group, says, “Aussies love to shop online and we’re seeing this trend increase across all ages and demographics.

"Excitingly, we’re not just seeing consumers shopping for their everyday groceries and low-cost items but we’ve seen a huge jump in people feeling comfortable to buy higher value items, including cars, online. We expect this trend to continue as more interactive and immersive experiences become available to help people do more pre-research online and feel even more comfortable that they have found the right products for them before purchase.

“In the last 6 months we’ve seen brands focused on finding innovative ways to stay connected with their customers which has led to a shift forward of about 5 years in digital innovations. These innovations are elevating online shopping experiences away from being simple transactions to become fully immersive experiences.

"Volkswagen’s AR experience is a great example of how brands are helping bring the traditional in-person shopping experience to Aussies’ homes. With 63% of people stating that they would be extremely likely to purchase a car online in the future, innovations like this will help give people that extra layer of confidence to make those bigger ticket purchases from home and we expect to see the rise of buying cars online continue.”

Volkswagen continued explaining its AR experience, and says it "provides Aussies with a holistic virtual car dealership experience which not only lets people experience the cars in their own space but it also connects consumers with the option to arrange a test drive or buy online - all in one place.

"Features of the custom-built AR technology also include the ability to test out the lights, open and close the doors, look into and interact with the interiors for both of the new small SUVs – T-Roc and T-Cross, with more cars to follow. Users can even scale the car to be 10x smaller than its real-life size to let people have even more fun with the experience".

Jason Bradshaw, continues: “During COVID-19, we’ve seen our online store also helping support our network of dealerships, particularly those in Victoria, as buying online also enables a safe and contact- free way to buy cars.

"We’re continually looking for ways to enhance our customers shopping experiences and are excited to be able to give Aussies the opportunity to 'try on' our latest range of small SUVs in their own time, on their own driveway, to help them feel confident that they have found the right car for them with a brand they know and trust. This is just the first phase of the AR as we’ll continue to add more cars to the experience over time to let even more Aussies try on our full range of cars.”

You can visit the smallest dealership to check out the AR experience here

Here's some more information about the World’s Smallest Car Dealership and the features of the iOS and Android version of Volkswagen's app, which is also available for desktop computers:

Volkswagen’s smallest dealership measures 28cm tall by 47cm long and 32.5cm wide in size and features the new design of future dealerships. It includes proportional backlight signage, models of the latest T-Roc and T-Cross small SUVs, has seating and signage as well as a multicoloured lighting and a digital screen.

The smallest dealership is Volkswagen’s newest and smallest dealership and represents the future of online car sales to meet growing consumer demand to be able to have the showroom experience from the comfort of their own home.

About Volkswagen’s AR technology:

Volkswagen has designed a custom-built web based augmented reality provide an enhanced experience for users and eliminate the need to develop specialised apps. Aussies are able to simply and easily access the AR via their native phone camera and experience the car in their own environment.

The technology has been developed for Android and Apple phones and is also available on desktop.

You can try it out yourself at the World's Smallest Car Dealership website here

The AR features include:

  • Select from Volkswagen’s latest range of small SUVs T-Roc and T-Cross, with more cars to follow
  • Choose the colour of the car you’d like to test
  • Explore the key features of the car up close in your own environment and from 360 degrees
  • Open the doors to look inside
  • See the interiors and what it feels like from the driver’s seat
  • Switch on and off lights to see the key lighting detail
  • Interact with the car feature hotspots to understand the key detail (includes optional audio tour)
  • Book a test drive or buy a car directly from the experience
  • Scale the size of the car to be 10x smaller than its real-life size to provide more fun ways for users to interact with the cars.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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