Jaguar Launches Virtual Shopping Experience

By Michael Vizard

Jaguar Land Rover has hundreds of thousands of options available on its cars, which presents a vexing problem for local dealerships that would like to provide their customers with a visual representation of what their particular selection of components would look like.

To solve that problem, Jaguar Land Rover has developed the Jaguar Land Rover Virtual Experience, a 3D application deployed on a PC-based system that allows customers to examine and change components of a 3D rendering of a car, using motion-detection technology, in the dealer showroom.

“All our cars are made to order, so the customer experience is very important to us,” says Nathan Summers, digital director for Jaguar Land Rover. “Whenever we develop something, it has to be complementary. It needs to sit elegantly within the natural retail process.”

Built in collaboration with IBM, the Jaguar Land Rover Virtual Experience is an example of how the physical and digital worlds are merging to reshape the consumer shopping experience.

The Jaguar Land Rover Virtual Experience begins with a customer signing in with a tablet device and selecting a car, which is projected on a nearby screen. Motion-sensing technology enables the customer to use his or her body to control the image of the car and inspect its features, such as opening the driver’s door to examine the interior. Want to hear how the engine sounds? Just push a button.

“The goal,” says Summers, “was to develop something that was a real, interactive and engaging as possible.”

Because the Jaguar Land Rover Virtual Experience can run on a laptop PC, it is highly portable, which allows Jaguar to use it, for example, at auto shows around the world.

The Jaguar Land Rover Virtual Experience will also generate volumes of data about customer preferences, such as which car features are most-often viewed during the buying process.

According to Sima Nadler, IBM Research’s worldwide lead for retail, the Jaguar Land Rover Virtual Experience is an example of how digital technologies are transforming the offline customer experience.

“The digital is moving into the physical,” says Nadler. “Jaguar is at the cutting edge of that.”

Jaguar also intends to use the Jaguar Land Rover Virtual Experience as a design tool for building its next generation of cars. Designers will be able to create virtual car models to see how certain functions impact the overall look and feel of a car long before one is ever physically built.

“Rapid prototyping and fail fast are cultural changes that we need to embrace,” says Summers.

Overall, retailers are increasingly trying to bridge the gulf between online and offline, using omni-channel strategies that heavily depend on IT for implementation and success. Unfortunately, a new survey of chief marketing officers conducted by IBM finds that only 35 percent of CMOs integrate their marketing activities across multiple channels, resulting in $85 billion in lost sales opportunities each year, which is one more reason why CIOs need to work more closely with their marketing counterparts.

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