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1- The Importance Of 360° Car Exterior Spin Images

In the past, people who were shopping for a new car traveled from dealership to dealership to hunt for the perfect vehicle. But these days, most of the steps involved in the process of buying a new car take place online.

Instead of visiting dealers in person, consumers browse their inventory online. These consumers want to see every angle of a vehicle to determine if it’s right for them, which is why static vehicle images are no longer enough to attract new customers to your dealership. The best way to draw these customers in is with 360° car exterior spin images.

- What Are 360° Car Exterior Spin Images?

360° exterior spin images are interactive images that allow your customers to view the exterior of a vehicle from every angle. A spin image gives consumers the opportunity to see the unique lines, curves, and proportions of a vehicle without stepping foot into a dealership.

If a consumer views a 360° spin image on their computer, they can drag their mouse to rotate the vehicle. If the image is viewed on a tablet or mobile device, all it takes is a swipe of the finger to rotate the image. With the swipe of a finger or click of a mouse, customers can finally see the complete picture of a vehicle.

Some images will even start to spin automatically even if the user does not use their mouse or finger to rotate it. These images will catch the eyes of anyone who is scrolling through their social media newsfeed or browsing through countless listings of cars for sale online.

- What Are The Benefits Of 360° Car Exterior Spin Images?

In today’s world, car shoppers want to view as many images as possible of a vehicle before ever stepping foot in a dealership. These shoppers scour the web at home to find photos of vehicles that will help them make this important purchase decision. If you only have static images on your website, consumers may visit your competitors’ websites to find more detailed images of the vehicles they are interested in purchasing.

Dealers need to utilize 360° exterior spin images in order to stay competitive in this rapidly changing market.

Showing these shoppers a complete 360° view of a vehicle will help them imagine what they will look like behind the wheel and more importantly, how good the vehicle will look in their driveway. Seeing vehicles from all angles can help shoppers narrow down their list and find the vehicle that’s right for them.

Providing a 360° view of a car can make all the difference when it comes to converting a lead into a customer.

360° exterior spin images are also far more visually stimulating and interesting than static images. Using these images will help you grab consumers’ attention and keep them engaged.

- How To Use 360° Car Spins?

There are a number of ways to use 360° car spins to grow your business.

Most car shoppers begin the process of looking for a new car online before they ever visit a dealership. These shoppers are looking for a car showroom experience from the comfort of their home. The best way to provide this experience is using 360° car spins to showcase your inventory on your website.

Using these 360° spins allows shoppers to virtually walk around the exterior of the vehicle just like they would in a real car showroom. Providing this experience will help you stand out from other dealerships and attract more online shoppers to your business.

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2- Pushing The Boundaries Of Automotive Virtual Experiences

With most showrooms closed across the country, car manufacturers and dealers are considering how they’ll be able to safely sell in a COVID-19 world. As a result, Nissan UK approached A1 Designs to explore how it could achieve a truly realistic virtual experience for customers. With Matterport, it allows them to access a high-quality and comprehensive 3D tour of each vehicle.

The concept of enabling a customer to immerse themselves and explore a vehicle at their own pace, perusing every corner and curve the car has to offer, acted as a powerful marketing tool for Nissan UK. Using Matterport, A1 Designs designed 3D virtual tours to give customers a real feel for Nissan’s showroom, with accessibility worldwide from any device. This capability unlocks significant and exciting opportunities for the industry, for both improvement and evolution of both car showrooms, and 3D tour experience capabilities.

We caught up with Peter Campbell, Company Director at A1 Designs, about its project with Nissan UK and how Matterport helped bring the fleet to life. 

- Q: What Inspired The 3D Capture Of The Nissan Fleet?

Our aim at A1 Designs has always been to think outside the box when it comes to virtual tour technology by identifying niche and unique applications for the Matterport platform. When Nissan approached us looking to achieve an authentic, realistic virtual experience for their customers, we could have gone down the conventional route of applying computer-generated vehicles, like many car manufacturers currently do.

But for this project, we wanted to create a realistic and immersive experience – the type that can only be achieved by capturing the physical vehicle itself. That’s where Matterport came in.

- Q: What Are The “must-sees” You Want Visitors To Explore And Why?

The idea is to immerse yourself and explore what each vehicle has to offer. We can all appreciate that today more than ever when we aren’t venturing out as much as we would like. By capturing and creating a digital twin of the fleet, viewers can access a high-quality and comprehensive tour of each vehicle, learn about all the specifications and features via the embedded Mattertags, and really get a feel for the car before they’ve even set foot in it. Not only that, but people can revisit the virtual showroom as many times as they like, and whenever they like, which has obvious advantages for both the potential buyer and Nissan as the seller.

- Q: What’s The One Thing You Want Visitors To Take Away After Exploring All The Different Car Models?

Satisfaction. This is what we ultimately want to gain from any experience, isn’t it? Feeling satisfied having explored and gained all the information needed from a variety of cars, and making sure one is happy with all aspects and features before diving in and making that purchase decision. It’s the same as buying anything substantial.

It’s invaluable to be able to visit and comprehensively explore the item on multiple occasions, at convenient times, and all from the comfort of your own sofa! Having this level of upfront knowledge and experience of the product optimizes the decision-making process.

- Q: What were the challenges of capturing the inside of the vehicles?

Capturing the interior of the vehicles was indeed a challenge! The nature of scanning in ‘close quarters’ does bring its difficulties, but A1 Designs are experienced in rising to these challenges and relished the opportunity! Having to think fast on our feet during the shoot, we managed to create bespoke equipment and implemented unique working techniques to aid the capture of the vehicle interiors. We also applied some third-party wizardry to the scans in the form of editing, to ensure any imperfections were removed and the output was flawless. As you can see from the tours themselves, we also managed to edit the external studio space, to create a closed and clean environment for the vehicles to be positioned and viewed within, with fantastic results.

- Q: How have the 3D tours been helpful in showcasing and marketing each vehicle?

The tours have received excellent feedback. Of course, you can’t beat seeing something in the flesh and being able to touch, feel and even smell certain materials.

But what these tours have provided is a unique and well-needed level of detail in virtual showroom showcasing. It’s an additional and powerful marketing tool that completes the package from both sides of the vehicle sale engagement.

- Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A1 Designs love to push the boundaries and experiment with new technologies and their applications across multiple sectors. Our core service offering is actually computer-aided design (CAD) and surveying solutions. The versatility of virtual tour platforms has meant we’re able to expand the technology over to additional industries and sectors along with our experience and skillset. This makes things extremely exciting for us as a business, as we strive to continuously improve and evolve what we do and who we can help!

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3- How a Virtual Reality Car Showroom Simplifies Car Shopping

Car buying has moved online because of Covid, and while the automotive industry might not have anticipated the sudden pivot to the virtual world, consumers have embraced the new virtual trend. According to Cox Automotive’s Digitization of End-to-End Retail study, “…64% of shoppers want to do more of the purchase process online the next time they buy a vehicle.”

Shopping for a car online might be the future of car buying, and many dealerships may be adding more online resources—like a virtual reality car showroom—to aid potential buyers. Here’s how a virtual reality car showroom simplifies car shopping and why and how consumers can use these resources.

- What is a Virtual Reality Car Showroom?

Before Covid, most consumers on the hunt for a new car might have looked at dealership inventory online, scrolled through pictures, priced their favorites and then headed out to visit a few dealerships for the best price. When the pandemic shut down most nonessential businesses, car dealerships might have moved their business online. This meant that many consumers might not have been able to leisurely stroll around the showroom.

While pictures might capture the basic look of the vehicle, those photos don’t—and really can’t—tell the whole story. Yes, there can be photos of the interior. Dealerships can even take videos or up-close snapshots of the details. However, those photos don’t allow for much interaction beyond clicking through a slideshow or watching a video.

Virtual reality car showrooms allow dealerships to digitally replicate the in-person experience in a virtual realm. These showrooms can be accessed via an app, with or without a headset. In its most basic form—without headset navigation—consumers can choose a vehicle and view it in a three-dimensional space. The vehicle is shown to scale, and consumers can look inside, change the color of the body paint…and more.

With a headset, these spaces are much more interactive. Users actually come up close to these three-dimensional virtual cars and can interact with them in the virtual space. Again, this allows the consumer to access the interior of the car, swap out the paint hue and even look at the vehicle from different vantage points.

- How Do Virtual Reality Car Showrooms Simplify Shopping?

While Covid restrictions kept many consumers at home or limited their visits to stores, some consumers still needed to purchase a new car. Virtual reality car showrooms allowed the car shopping experience to be accessible at home…or anywhere. But it also may help to simplify the experience beyond Covid.

In fact, dealers surveyed for the Cox study believed that online experiences might be more personalized. The study noted that “…75% agree that digital retailing provides shoppers a more customized experience.”

How can online resources and digital retailing provide this type of experience? Online resources can be used however the consumer desires. Customers using a virtual reality showroom might only preview the vehicles on their wish list. They don’t have to scroll through a list of online inventory. They can look at the cars that interest them, and then pursue the dealerships.

Dealership experiences also could allow for more customized experiences in that even the sales interactions can happen virtually. This may help customers cut through the red tape of the experience by simply requesting info on the cars they need or want and not getting sidetracked with other vehicles in the inventory. Online interactions also could be more direct and to the point, eliminating a time-consuming in-person experience that could have taken hours.

When shopping online, consumers also can look at their leisure, without pressure. If needed, they could request a virtual test drive or head to the dealership to view their favorite vehicles in person.

- Using Virtual Reality Car Showrooms to Complement the In-Person Experience

The light at the end of the Covid tunnel is visible, and this may mean that in-person shopping may come with fewer restrictions to consumers. However, the online experience may still be valuable and can work to complement the in-person shopping experience.

Consumers can use virtual reality car showrooms as a research tool to preview the vehicles that most interest them. The virtual realm can help consumers explore the look of the vehicle and what it has to offer. Using their online favorites as a guide, consumers can then check out local dealerships to find price points and any promotions or savings. Or consumers may have a list of their favorite vehicles and then visit the dealership for a test drive.

Virtual reality car showrooms also can help consumers understand what they don’t want. Maybe a specific vehicle seemed ideal, but previewing the vehicle in the virtual space might have revealed space constraints in the back seat or perhaps other issues that crossed that dreamy vehicle off the list.

Pictures are two-dimensional, but viewing the car in 3D may provide a better physical understanding of the vehicle.

- The Future of Virtual Reality Car Showrooms

The next generation of the virtual reality car showroom will be accessible via Steam. The app is known as Roomscale, and the experience is a true virtual reality showroom experience. In this new virtual realm, users will be able to walk around and interact with whatever vehicle is on the must-see list. There will be an inventory of vehicle choices, and the interactions will closely mirror those in an actual showroom.

Even better? Users can explore whatever car they wish. If it’s in the inventory, check it out! Not only does this give users the freedom to explore new types of vehicles, maybe it also helps some car buyers set a goal for a dream car of the future. Or, of course, users can just check out cars for fun.

Roomscale and the immersive virtual reality car showroom may represent what the future holds for car buying. Consumers have shown that they like the virtual shopping option. Perhaps this is due to the laid-back atmosphere that the virtual realm offers. There is no sales pressure when visiting virtual showrooms. The power might shift to the consumer.

- Virtual Reality Car Showrooms Without the Headset

Multiple app options provide accessibility to a wider audience. And, for users who want an augmented experience, RelayCars also offers an augmented reality car showroom. This app lets users preview the vehicle of their choice within their own environment. Drop a vehicle in the garage, the living room, the backyard…anywhere.

With augmented reality, users can walk around the vehicle, peek inside and switch the colors of the exterior of the vehicle. Augmented reality provides a different type of immersive experience. By allowing users to drop a vehicle anywhere, it also allows users to customize their car hunt. Now shoppers can actually see what that car looks like in the driveway! It might be too big. Or too green! Change it up!

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