Volkswagen Australia has launched an augmented reality tool to act as a virtual showroom that supports the carmaker’s newly launched e-commerce presence.
The custom-built AR technology lets shoppers view and customise cars through their devices, as well as connect them with an option to arrange a test drive or even buy the vehicle online.
Volkswagen Australia has sold 460 cars, at a value of $36 million, since April when it launched its online store.
In June it rolled out a digital prepaid service package that another 500 customers have bought online after already buying their car.
"In six months we've had almost 1000 customers buy something directly online from volkswagen.com.au which is a fantastic start to this journey,” said Jason Bradshaw, chief customer and marketing officer, Volkswagen.
In an interview with iTnews, Bradshaw said AR makes the online shopping more immersive and more convenient for customers.
"It gives people an extra level of confidence that you can't get from looking at static photos on a website,” he said.
Volkswagen has been piloting more “rudimentary” AR tools for internal product training over the past 12 to 16 months, providing dealership staff with a more engaging way to learn material than a 50-page document.
Developed in collaboration with Tribal DDB and Virtual Immersive, the service uses interactive web-based augmented reality to give users access to the vehicles through their phone's native technology.
Bradshaw said AR had now matured to a point that makes it simple for consumers to use and doesn’t add extra friction.
"One of the lessons we had from when we were testing internally for training was that it was just clumsy. But as the technology matured, and certainly now in 2020, it's just as simple as going to a website on your phone or tablet and jumping in," Bradshaw said.
"Like a lot of technology it has developed over the years to become really intuitive for consumers to be able to use."
Bradshaw said that during the Covid-19 lockdowns earlier in the year his team moved around delivery dates of projects "to make sure we were responding to what customers were asking for at the time".
That meant deprioritising some of the digital tools that are being deployed into dealerships, such as interactive touch screen displays when customers either couldn't or weren't wanting to go into a a physical location.
"We refocused our energies at that time to the online experience, first starting with the ability to configure and buy your car online in April, rolling out Volkswagen care plans and other tools along the way, and leading up to today."
Volkswagen’s website traffic has had a record year in 2020, rising by 18 percent year-on-year.
Bradshaw flagged more tools which will launch over the next six months to make it easier for customers to "stay connected" with the company during serving, sales and buying merchandise.