The Industry Challenge
It's no secret that the car-shopping experience is frequently fragmented, repetitive, and impersonal. Due to entrenched processes and complex purchase journeys, the industry has, on the whole, been slower than most to fall in line with modern expectations. This has had an impact on customer satisfaction rates, with 60% of car buyers reportedly giving up on searching for a perfect car and making a purchase out of exhaustion (AutoTrader).
While there have been some efforts to broach this problem, they are often focussed on building isolated solutions and touchpoints that add new, additional steps to a journey that is already complex for both car buyers and retailers. As a result, customer satisfaction rates are on a downward trend: 61% of recent car buyers rate their latest purchase experience as the same or worse than the previous one (Cox Automotive).
The Cloud-Powered Solution
In collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon Vehicles, and Cadillac, ZeroLight created a concept to address this challenge: a streamlined vehicle-shopping journey that is powered by a centralised, cloud-based platform. This enabled ZeroLight to adopt an omnichannel-first approach, where each touchpoint is part of a cohesive, consistent journey that is built around customers' needs, interactions, and devices.
"The XT6 is powered by innovation. It reflects our relentless focus on driving technological advancements, so it was the perfect model to pioneer this profoundly modern customer experience. Taking users on a streamlined, personalized, and highly visual journey, this concept paints an exciting picture of the future of car buying."
Melissa Grady, CMO, Cadillac
It is a four-stage, customer-centric process that guides a customer through the purchase journey for a Cadillac XT6, moving from online research to personalised remarketing to in-dealership and post-dealership interactions.
"This concept is a powerful statement that demonstrates the direction in which we are taking automotive retail. With hyper-personalised interactions and seamless integration into third-party platforms like Amazon Vehicles and Salesforce, it showcases how automotive brands can use the cloud to establish competitive advantages by enhancing touchpoints at every stage of the vehicle-shopping journey."
François de Bodinat, Chief Product Officer, ZeroLight
"AWS's extensive cloud architecture gives Advanced Technology Partners in the AWS Partner Network - like ZeroLight - the power to create truly amazing customer experiences at each phase of an automotive customer's shopping journey. With AWS, ZeroLight can develop marketing content in real time and integrate it with advanced data analytics capabilities to deliver a consistent, immersive, and personalized vehicle-shopping experience, at scale."
Mark Dipko, Automotive Industry Marketing Leader, Amazon Web Services, Inc.
This concept addresses the fragmented and impersonal nature of automotive retail by creating an integrated and connected solution that encompasses the entire journey, from start to finish. It uses AWS's scalable infrastructure to establish a centralised platform that delivers three key advantages: cloud-powered consistency, cloud-powered configuration, and cloud-powered personalisation.
1. Cloud-powered consistency
This a true omnichannel solution. This directly addresses a major pain point in modern car buying: inconsistent experiences across different touchpoints. 73% of customers, in fact, say they are likely to switch brands if they don't receive consistent cross-channel experiences (SalesForce), but, all too frequently, they are faced with frustrating repetitions as they move from one device to another.
ZeroLight's cloud-based platform allows user-preference data to be tracked and transferred between touchpoints. This means each stage of the journey seamlessly follows on from the last, regardless of time, place, device, or medium.
2. Cloud-powered configuration
ZeroLight's cloud-based rendering platform delivers interactive 3D configurators with no compromises on visual quality or interactivity. With 6-million-polygon car models, four photorealistic virtual environments, and resolutions up to 4K, the configurator in this concept enabled users to customise their XT6 in unmatched detail.
Because this content is rendered in the cloud, the solution is highly agile and can be accessed on any device or integrated into a range of different front-end platforms via API. As a result, the configurator could be seamlessly incorporated into Amazon Vehicles. This freedom to integrate ZeroLight's solutions into third-party platforms gives OEMs the ability to enhance their purchase journeys with market-leading experiences without adding any additional touchpoints or stages for their customers. This makes the digitalisation of an OEM's retail offering significantly easier, as they can enhance their existing, legacy infrastructure with ZeroLight's solutions, rather than replacing their entire system to implement new touchpoints.
This cloud-powered agility is similarly crucial at the dealership stage, where the configurator is streamed directly to a low-spec PC and controlled via a simple tablet application. Not only does this give dealers additional flexibility, but it also removes the need for upfront investments of time, money, support, and space that would be required if the content was rendered locally on high-end hardware, like most solutions today. This centralised approach therefore ensures a more unified, consistent, and connected overall experience that is directly controlled and managed by the OEM HQ.
3. Cloud-powered personalisation
Personalisation is no longer a luxury for brands. 83% of customers expect a personalised experience online (Monetate), and 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalised experiences (Epsilon). This concept addresses this demand by delivering digital and physical personalisation throughout the entire purchase journey, enabling OEMs to achieve marketing's holy grail: digital personalisation at scale (McKinsey).
Customers' interactions are automatically tracked up to 10 times per second. This information is fed back into ZeroLight's centralised platform and seamlessly transferred across each touchpoint. Not only does this enable the consistency discussed above, but it also enables ZeroLight's cloud-based content-production platform, SpotLight Suite™, to create and personalise a range of visual content on demand via API. These assets are then integrated into various touchpoints, including adverts, emails, and even fully interactive digital brochures. Unlike a static PDF or print brochure, this hyper-personalised version of the recently launched 2020 XT6 Digital Brochures is a dynamic digital experience that enables customers to learn more about the exact car they have configured.
In addition to this, customers' interaction data is automatically fed into a live Salesforce page. While guiding the customer through the in-dealership configuration stage, the dealer can access and use this information to suggest personalised next-best upgrade and configuration offers that are based on that customer's online interactions. This can give dealers a competitive advantage, as 75% of customers are more likely to purchase from a retailer that recognises them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history (Accenture).
The concept was first showcased on Amazon's booth in the main automotive hall at CES 2020. Over the course of the show, over the solution was demonstrated over 300 times, with 954 personalised adverts served and over 1,600 images generated on demand by SpotLight Suite. As a result of this exposure, the collaboration was featured in well over 50 news outlets, including the New York Times, Tech Crunch, and Marketing Dive.