I think it’s safe to say everyone is aware of “the Google”, and if you’re not, please tell me what magic you used to find this humble blog. Google is a great company; it’s brought us tablets, navigation, the internet, and the meaning of life. What is most intriguing to me about Google’s product line is Street View and the potential it holds for online automotive shoppers.
Street View is Google’s way of helping those of us sitting in our computer chairs feel like we are standing in the middle of a busy intersection. It’s very helpful if you want to know what a particular area you’re about to visit looks like so you can more easily assimilate with the locals, or if you feel like taking a vacation to Australia, but you can’t sacrifice the day-and-a-half travel time. Recently, Google has been strapping their Street View cameras to their employees (not just their Subies) and sending them off into the world.
Google’s Personal Shopping Experience
Google has been using these camera-strapped humans to allow users the chance to take a virtual walk through companies of their choosing. I was recently looking at their Street View of the Lamborghini museum and noticed something interesting, although I’m sure I’m late to the party on this one. I was able to navigate my way into a few of the cars on the showroom. While I spun my digital self around, I began to think, “Why can’t we shop for cars this way? What’s stopping us from shopping for cars the same way we browse products on Amazon?”
Bring the Dealership to You
I feel Google Street View has the ability to make that happen. It would be a great way to showcase products before anyone ever sets foot on the lot. There are plenty of pictures and “Build Your Vehicle” options out there for people to see, but there’s a problem with those. Mainly, they are all either computer-generated images or their photos of the vehicle are taken in a controlled location with the unattainable perfect lighting.
If you’ve done any shopping online you know that the product in real life is never as perfect looking as those fancy photo shoot pictures are, like how every single fast food burger commercial looks like the most delicious sandwich of all time, until you actually buy it. That’s what makes the Street View great: there are no fancy lighting tricks or fake props and you see exactly how the car looks in an everyday situation. It also makes the viewing process interactive, which us internet people love. I was able to zoom in on knobs and dash pieces and it made it feel like I was really sitting inside the vehicle. The only thing missing was the New Car Smell®.
Are You Buying, or Just Internet-Browsing?
I know I would Street View every car I could before I landed on the one I was interested in. This would allow me to walk into any physical dealership knowing the ins and outs of the vehicle I was there to look at. That only leaves the need to test drive it so I know how it feels on the road, but I’m sure we’ll find a way to put that online as well. Maybe put a rumble pack under the chair to simulate pot holes? It could work.
Do you think that having Google Street View to look at cars will improve your car buying experience? Or do our flabby internet bodies still have the ability, nay, the responsibility to leave the house?