A virtual car showroom is the future of the automotive industry. Customers appreciate this type of solution, not only during a pandemic
Definitely, the world around us is changing very dynamically; something that was cutting-edge a few years ago is now standard or even a thing of the past. Consumers' preferences are also changing. We are becoming more and more demanding when it comes to products as well as their presentation and distribution channels. Month by month, e-commerce has been growing more robust; this also applies to the automotive industry. It is a natural and even necessary step for dealers to enter virtual showroom projects. Our virtual showroom is the result of many months of cooperation with Renault Polska, MakoLab, and Virtual Car 360. We are glad that we were able to start the project right now and offer our customers a safe purchase of their dream used vehicle without leaving their home.
Tomasz Soszyński, Head of Automotive Software Solutions at MakoLab:
Because of the times we live in and the related need to maintain social distance, it is essential to minimize the negative effect on the business that we can see. As a result of the pandemic, car showrooms had to be closed practically overnight, severely limiting the dealers’ ability to reach the customer in a standard way. On the other hand, people interested in buying cars had to withhold the decision or, due to the inability to see the car in person or take a test drive, postpone it. MakoLab predicted the development of an online car sales channel a long time ago, so we have created and successfully implemented a new virtual showroom solution for Renault and Dacia brands and their dealer network. It is a response to the current trend and behaviour also observed in other brands that, despite adversity, want to sell cars and develop business.
The reality and limitations we had to face as a society quickly accelerated the development of sales. Customers make most of their purchases using modern internet tools.
The pandemic and social distancing forced the remodelling of the way people interact and finalize the car purchase. Most of the activities moved to the Internet: from searching for an exciting offer, getting to know its details through communication with the seller or dealer, and the finalization of the purchase. For some brands, it has also become standard to deliver the purchased car directly to the location designated by the customer, e.g., to their house.
Choosing the right tools ensures business development and stability. Key factors are modern technologies, quality and durability, and friendly service both on the dealer’s and the customer’s side. It applies to the dealer's website, online store, virtual showroom, communication modules, offer export modules, or entire integrated environments such as the Virtual Car 360 project.
The sales have been transferred online. The key is to present the offer properly and make it credible. If we sell a used car, we also have to show minor defects resulting from its operation, so that the customer knows what car they are buying. Thanks to the tools provided by MakoLab, 360 view presentations of the outside and inside of the vehicle can be additionally supplemented with scans of certification and warranty documents as well as vehicle technical condition inspection documents carried out by a specialized external company. When it comes to the customer taking a test drive or wishing to see the car, the dealership has had to change to accommodate these. In addition to the traditional test drive available in the showroom after making a prior appointment with the dealer, we can also order it directly to our home or to a designated location.
Development and innovation form part of our organization’s foundations, so selling through Virtual Salon is a natural step. The VC360 is the only such refined and comprehensive tool on the market. It has been created over several years by expert IT teams and sales practitioners in the automotive industry. So it was an obvious choice.
Virtual Car 360 is a modern and comprehensive tool that allows you to create a professional car sales offer and publish it on your website and automotive portals such as OtoMoto or Allegro, among other things. The main strengths of the product are the standardization of vehicle presentation, regardless of the person taking the pictures, the ease and speed of publication of offers, full integration of the system with the EuroTax Glass database, which undoubtedly facilitates the preparation of a detailed description of the offer.
Our goal was to present our offer online professionally, reaching people who, e.g., due to the distance, would not decide to visit our company's headquarters. The challenge and the goal were to transfer the experience from a stationary salon to a virtual one - a place that the customer can visit without getting up from their couch or while sat at their desk.
Implementing a virtual showroom in the Renault and Dacia dealer network was aimed at transferring the traditional car presentation to the Internet, creating a standardized offer presentation, and shortening and simplifying the process of creating and publishing an offer on the Internet. These goals have undeniably been achieved.
Of course, the first customer reviews are positive, and distance transactions confirm the right direction of the company's development. VC360 in such a difficult time for the automotive industry effectively supports our sales. Virtual Salon effectively builds the image of our company as an innovative and reliable dealer.
Thanks to the new form of presentation implemented, the Renault and Dacia brands made themselves stand out significantly. Their offers have become more recognizable, and from what we know from dealers, this also translated into a more significant interest in purchasing the models offered.
When building our Salon, we had to plan and develop a special place for the VC360 studio. But we know it was a good investment.
Launching a virtual showroom with the Virtual Car 360 IT platform was not a complicated undertaking in itself. Throughout the entire process, it was essential to ensure that the customer was properly trained in the tools and the correct implementation of the photo session. Presentations and training enable the seller to learn how to implement and highlight the advantages of their offer professionally and how to place it online efficiently. At best, 7 to 15 minutes elapse between the creation and publication of an offer online.
The price of the solution depends on the requirements but also the customer's capabilities. VC360 offers solutions for small dealers based on a smartphone and software, and such a basic solution that enables you to enter the virtual world with car sales is the cost of several thousand. There are reserved solutions for a company with extensive car stocks based on several sizes of a stationary studio. So any dealer can tailor the solution to the sales volume and goals adopted by their organization. As a company specializing in the sale of used cars, we decided to use comprehensive solutions, including a stationary studio plus all soft facilities, including a virtual showroom and the possibility of presenting offers in the 360 technology on the importer's website.
The Virtual Car 360 solution is modular - each customer can choose both physical elements and devices that make up the entire VC360 ecosystem, depending on their needs and financial capabilities. The same approach applies to the selection of functionalities provided by the IT system supporting the whole solution.
Switch from offline to online thinking as soon as possible. Specific actions must follow this. It is a paradigm shift and a change in the operating strategy of entire organizations. We do not need to reinvent the wheel but look around, see how others do it, and use proven and useful tools such as VC360. But understanding the world around us and changing our thinking is the key.
You need to change your perspective and take care of your online presence and image on the web because, for many customers, the first point of contact with the dealer is the Internet. It is quite challenging to understand the "normal" realities of everyday life when we can go to the Salon and see the car live. The pandemic situation showed that we should be prepared for various scenarios and go out to customers when they cannot come to us.
Our goal is to set standards in terms of the quality of cars delivered and the quality of service. Currently, we focus on providing our customers with comparable experience and quality without visiting our showroom. The customer should have a complete set of information on the screen of his computer or smartphone, enabling them to make a secure purchase decision.
Playing to one goal. For me, the element of shared understanding and building long-term business relationships is important. Besides, innovation, stability, quality, and user-friendliness of the tools provided, and the reliability of the entire development infrastructure are essential.
It is undoubtedly vital to understand the business needs of our customer client and the end consumer. We are a technology company that has actively participated in the implementation of projects in the automotive sector for 20 years. The experience we have accumulated over the years allows us to offer the perfect solution in terms of technology and functionality, taking into account business requirements and market realities. It is also essential to have a holistic view of our customer’s business and the ability to critically judge their actual needs – it is not always the solution that the customer would like to implement will be appropriate for them. Our role is to properly manage the digital transformation process so that the customer is satisfied and achieves the goals adopted.
Thank you for the conversation.
Are you interested in a virtual salon?
See the Renault Selection virtual salon website