ZeroLight: Pioneering a New Era in the Digitization of Customer Experiences

Francois de Bodinat | CMO | ZeroLight
Francois de Bodinat | CMO | ZeroLight

Even though the automotive retail sector has been using real-time visualization solutions for several years. OEMs still struggle to balance performance, quality and scalability. In identifying this gap in the market, ZeroLight has worked to provide high end solutions that do not compromise on any front. Established in Newcastle in 2014, ZeroLight provides cloud-based solutions that enhance every stage of the automotive sales and marketing visualization experience. Its offering consists of real-time configurators for online and retail as well as an easy-to-use production platform for the creation of pictures, videos and interactive media. Designed for scale and efficiency, its solutions are cloud-based, agile tools that enable OEMs to increase speed to market whilst driving user engagement, higher specification sales and lower content production costs.

ZeroLight has expanded to become a multi-award winning, international company, with offices in the UK, China, the US, and Germany. This global mindset is reflected in its work as it has undertaken numerous projects with many of the biggest companies in the automotive industry such as Audi, Lamborghini, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Porsche, Pagani and Cadillac and its solutions are currently being used by millions of car buyers around the world.

ZeroLight’s DNA evolved three years ago when the company launched its first real-time, cloud-based configurator on Audi’s website. The success of this project confirmed that cloud visualisation is the future of sales and marketing experiences. The company is pioneering a new era in the digitisation of customer experiences within the automotive industry and beyond. Its DNA has moved from “visualisation for marketing and sales” to “cloud-based visualisation for marketing and sales”. This is a unique and very scalable value proposition that opens the door to delivering content and experiences that positively impacts upon sales figures throughout the entire customer journey, from advertising to retail. With this approach, it is becoming a revenue centre rather than a cost centre in the eyes of its customers. Once again, technology with purpose.

ZeroLight’s vital contribution to the automotive industry lies in the use of the cloud to reinvent and personalize at scale the automotive buying journey.

The company’s solutions have a proven track record of performance at the highest possible quality, regardless of the medium. Whether it’s virtual reality, ultra-high resolution screens, or other dealership-specific sensorial experiences, its technology has consistently increased engagement, upsells and conversions for brands including Audi, Pagani, Toyota, BMW, Nissan and Cadillac.

It is important to note that the current point-of-sale experiences still relies on physical PCs to deliver realtime content to each medium. This constraint not only brings complexity to the retail world in terms of deployment and maintenance, but also increases the total cost of ownership of the solution, whilst reaching only a limited number of customers. The traditional method of delivering a configuration experience online is to pre-produce a huge number of images that customers can browse on their device. This reduces speed to market and brings a significant compromise in customer interactivity and engagement compared to the dealership experiences. To address this, ZeroLight has developed a unique way to use realtime cloud-based rendering to replicate and deliver its award-winning dealership experiences to any customer, on any device, anywhere. After successful rollouts with both Audi and Lamborghini, it is the only company to have deployed this technology worldwide, in partnership with Amazon Web Services. “Results of its online Audi configurator have shown a 66% increase in user engagement, a 9% increase in feature selection and a €1,200 average upsell when compared to the traditional method.”

Its cloud-based platform also enables the company to overcome the point-of-sale hardware hurdle. ZeroLight is now streaming high-end real-time configurators into Lamborghini dealerships directly from the cloud, thus avoiding the pain point of hardware installation and maintenance. It is also working with leading network companies to bring fully cloud based wireless virtual reality experiences to the retail world, making the dealership much less dependent upon high-end hardware.

Finally, its cloud technology is at the heart of its SpotLight™ platform which democratises the creation and production of digital content and media for use across advertising, digital signage, and any other customer-related social channels. This opens the door to a new type of interactive and ultra-personalised advertising content that would have otherwise been too expensive to produce with traditional agency-like approaches.

When it comes to technology volatility, the company’s priority is to hire and retain the best possible people. It has a great team of highly skilled engineers and artists who not only keep up with advancements in technology, but are also capable of identifying, early on, those that will actually benefit it as a company. Navigating through the maze of constant advancements in software, services, and hardware requires the ability to steer in one clear direction and understand if and how each new piece could either benefit or distract the company. ZeroLight’s expert team is pivotal for it to do this successfully.

One of the driving forces behind ZeroLight is its CMOFrancois de Bodinat. The cross functional and diverse experiences afforded to him through his roles as software engineer to sales director, and from start-up founder to blue-chip companies’ such as Amazon, has enabled him to gain invaluable insights into the commonly challenges that many young tech companies face. This expertise is crucial to fulfil his current mission as Chief Marketing Officer, which involves productizing ZeroLight’s technologies, services and concepts into a competitive and scalable portfolio to solve key market issues.

Secondly, the company maintains a close relationship with its partners. It became an Advanced Technology Partner with AWS, for instance, which gives the company exclusive access and support to their new or upcoming cloud services. ZeroLight also works closely with many hardware manufacturers to receive development kit models of VR and AR headsets and pre-release graphics cards. This allows it to remain the preferred contact for partners when they need to test or deliver a world-class automotive solution on their new piece of hardware or software.

Strategically, the volatility of technology also creates great opportunities for the company. The way it structures its value proposition to its customers is more and more technology agnostic; it focusses instead on end-to-end solutions. For instance, ZeroLight’s cloudbased platform, SpotLight™, allows OEMs to produce a massive amount of media content like pictures or videos of their cars. The underlying technology behind SpotLight is constantly evolving, but it does so in a way that benefits its overarching platform, making it more robust, faster, cheaper and, overall, better.

ZeroLight’s dialogue with its customers remains focused on the challenges they are facing, on the content they need to produce and the context in which they need it, rather than the specific methods and technologies at stake. A software analogy for this could be that its solutions are like APIs that deliver a dedicated service or product. The code that implements those APIs – the technology – keeps on evolving, but the customer always sees the same APIs, so they benefit from every advancement without worrying about code changes.

ZeroLight stays true to its ethos and remain prepared to challenge the status quo or existing business models in order to constantly innovate with new and purposeful solutions. It is not afraid to dare. For instance, when it deployed its new, cloud-based solution with Audi, it put in place an analytics platform to track the user from their website to purchasing a car in a dealership. This allowed the company to tie its revenue to the measurable financial success of its solution. Its competitive advantage also resides in its customer centricity. For example, whenever the company is approached to help a customer go paperless with its product brochures, not only does it work to deliver the best digital assets, but it also strives to bring unique features of a cloud-based solution such as increased interactivity and on-demand personalisation. This creates a win-win dynamic with its customers who understand that ZeroLight will always provide a scalable and robust solution that is, above all, innovative.