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How Automotive Dealers Are Going Virtual

The Internet has forever changed the way people do things, from work to leisure, communication and buying items. So, it should come as no surprise that car manufacturers and dealers are now planning on going virtual. This doesn’t mean showrooms will disappear, but rather the emergence of the online showroom. Let’s see How a Virtual Car Showroom Can Work

Virtual technology is still new, but dealers have a pretty good idea of how it can work. Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen for instance, has announced plans to coordinate efforts with store owners to use virtual reality headsets. With these headsets, customers can get information about the product or automotive service without driving the car.

Virtual reality is part of Cadillac’s Project Pinnacle plan, and it’s something that other car dealers are also trying out. Under a virtual dealership, a car company rewards the dealer not so much on the number of cars sold but how they provide assistance and service for the brand.

A study by consulting firm Frost and Sullivan shows that many car enthusiasts are interested in the idea of a virtual car buying experience. Concepts like virtual test drives and digital media are also gaining ground.

Why Adapt Virtual Showrooms and Dealerships?

There are a lot of reasons to go virtual, but the most common reason is a practical one. Car manufacturers put up a lot of stores, but they don’t always sell out. Setting up showrooms across states can be tedious as you have to account for state laws and regulations.

A virtual showroom is more economical. Once it’s been set up, maintenance is easier. Plus, the use of the latest technology makes changing and updating information quicker. This also saves companies the trouble of dealing with financial settlements and franchise laws to shut down poorly performing stores.

Switching from the traditional showroom to a virtual one presents challenges, but it’s easy to why the idea persists. It is cheaper and also easier to maintain. By reducing overhead costs, it comes as no surprise that dealers find the idea attractive. Those who adopt this strategy are likely to have tester vehicles in the area for customers getting their car serviced.

The idea of using virtually reality goggles for car showrooms is a novel one, but it offers an effective way to cut down inventory. A type of virtual arrangement in fact, is already being used by Tesla in some locations.

The importance of technology and the Internet for car sales cannot be underestimated. As it is, car companies and dealers that don’t have updated information are less likely to generate leads. Low lead generation leads to lower conversions, and this leads to fewer car sales.

A well-made website should provide information about the products, answer questions and generally make life easier for the customer. A virtual showroom works in a similar manner except there is the potential for greater interaction.

Mobile Car Applications

One reason for the optimism in virtual auto showrooms is the popularity of car apps. Both the iOS and Android have experienced a surge in demand for car apps, and the quality of these apps demonstrate how powerful technology can be.

  • There are for instance, car apps to keep you updated on the latest car news, galleries and videos.
  • Parking assistance apps can’t park your car, but it will notify you if the meter’s going down, save your parking location and provide other useful functions.
  • There are also apps for managing car insurance, quotes for car repair, provide lists of car repair shops in your area and contact information. The best apps also have logs so you’ll know how long it’s been since your last car repair and what components have been replaced.

Most of the major car manufacturers have apps where you can get news about their products and what they can do. This is in addition to apps that offer up to date news and info on specific types of cars. While these apps have features, a virtual dealership can extend their functionality and purpose.

The Present and Future for Car Dealerships

Car companies are investing heavily in these technologies, as consumer interest in virtual technology is on the rise. Aside from convenience, virtual car showrooms enhance the purchasing experience. This not only adds to the “wow” factor, but it also means less stress for buyers and sellers.

As technology improves, a 100% online only car buying experience has become a reality. It is now possible for a person to shop for a car and not step into the dealership until the process has been consummated online. Another intriguing prospect is that of virtual test drives which take place via online videos.

The number of buyers who demand this kind of experience continues to grow. For car dealers, the only means of keeping up is to provide media rich content. With these customers, a dealer’s only hope of getting them to buy a car – or just to have them take interest – is the website.

At the end of 2016, up to 30% of auto dealership space is set aside for technologies that will make the car purchasing experience even better. These same technologies are also being used to integrate it with online shopping.

The pint is clear enough: virtual tests, virtual dealerships and online services are here to stay. While the full impact has yet to be felt, the need to implement these technologies is there. Those who don’t adapt are going to end up with a smaller consumer base.

We have mentioned that going virtual is a  cost effective measure, but it’s also a way of making the process more transparent, efficient, enjoyable and convenient for everyone.


Virtual automotive dealership is still in its infancy and car companies are still getting feedback from car dealers and the technology is still being improved. Even so, the initial response has been positive and judging from the popularity of mobile car apps, there seems little doubt that virtual car dealerships and showrooms are going to make an impact.

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