By Natesh Muthalan, Lead Consultant, Infosys
The traditional way of purchasing a vehicle has changed significantly with the evolution of the Internet, where research and buying decisions happen before the customer even reaches the dealership. The pandemic shifted interactions with dealership staff to near fully virtual, and dealerships have started delivering vehicles to the customer’s doorsteps. With the Metaverse, the customer will have their Digital Avatars visit the dealership, shake hands with the dealership Sales personnel from their living rooms, take test drives, purchase accessories/parts, negotiate and complete paperwork in the comfort of their homes, and finally get their customized vehicle delivered to their door.
The first step for a dealership in the Metaverse is to have their Dealership Digital Twin. In this new world, the Digital Twin of the dealership needs to be a fun, rewarding experience for the customer, where they don’t just come for purchasing a car rather spend time virtually and have an enjoyable time. In the physical world, restructuring or rebuilding a dealership could take days but in the Metaverse, the Digital Twin of the dealership product needs to keep getting better so that it is enticing for the customer to visit, not just for the vehicle but for the other Virtual Accessories/Merchandise that the dealership has to offer.
The second step is to embrace the Metaverse Blockchain and have a presence in Blockchain technology, as it is going to be necessary to support customers purchasing the car. Bitcoins, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrencies as well as Credit/Tokens in the Metaverse need to be accepted so that the customer can exchange these virtual Tokens and upgrade their actual vehicles.
Lastly, consider Marketing in the Metaverse, especially when your target audience is millennials or Generation-Z, who on average will spend more time in this universe than the current generation. The Digital Dealership needs creative ways to offer virtual advertising. Holding virtual events will attract traffic to the Digital Dealership, or collaborating with partners who can provide branded installations, collectible items, and immersive experiences.
The Metaverse is still in very early development stages and there are still certain challenges that need to be sorted out before it goes full steam. Some of these challenges include developing the devices and systems required to be in Metaverse, such as high-end computers, lenses, data security, and data privacy. It is critical that the transition into this universe must be carefully planned.
The Metaverse is going to connect humans, robots, and AI to give an immersive experience for the customer. It is important to focus on three key areas to build a Metaverse future:
•Marketing: Metaverse is at very early stages so the investments in terms of branding, marketing, and advertising will be available at a reasonable cost. This is time to look for an opportunity to create some impression in the Metaverse for your Auto Dealerships.
•Building a Team: It is essential to have a small team focusing on the Metaverse so that they can look into this opportunity and be prepared, like an investment that will reap rewards in a few years.
•Finding Partner Support: Multiple vendors and players are investing and it is essential to find the right partner who shares common interests and provides support in this Metaverse journey.
About the Author
Natesh Muthalan is a Lead Consultant with Infosys and has extensive knowledge in the manufacturing domain especially in the automotive sector related to dealership operations, learning management, and master data management.