3D Visualization is The Future Of Commerce

Being able to thoroughly inspect a product before buying - without leaving the house? 3D visualization makes it possible. This new e-commerce trend is the bridge between physical shops and online retailers - and goes even further than that. How does it work and in what ways will this novel technology shape the digital market place?

Brita Piovesan, 05.10.2020

3D product visualization offers a new approach to online retail.

A new era in e-commerce

E-commerce is an ever-changing market. Due to the incredible information flow offered by the internet, innovation is constant and new trends pop up frequently. It is hard to keep up and differentiate between what is worth your time and what is just a short-living notion. Experts agree: one of the most interesting and promising trends within digital commerce right now is 3D product visualization.

3D product visualization is, as the name might suggest, the creation of three-dimensional models of products. Customers are no longer bound to stick to pictures: now it is possible to examine a product from every angle, at every time of the day.

Especially in times of COVID-19, 3D visualization offers the costumer a way to shop from home without the burden of restricted opening hours and the risk of an infection. At the same time, they are still profiting off the advantages of “try-before-you-buy”, which is clearly an USP.

Product display 2.0

Taking furniture retail as an example: the 3D models help the customers envision the product as if they already bought and placed it within their apartment.
The visual experience only physical shops were able to offer is no longer an obstacle.

Visual product sales enhance the customer’s experience even further: shifting between different colors and models becomes easier than ever. Where shop assistants had to bring different models and colors from the storage, it is now merely a click away.

By enabling 3D product configurator, online shops are able to communicate the unique feeling of a product - virtually and from home. Tiring family trips to the furniture store turn into a calm activity executed from the couch, possibly accompanied by a cup of coffee or tea.

3D product visualization is not only translating the advantages of an in-store shopping trip into the digital world, but is at the same time ensuring additional value physical shops are unable to offer.

Bringing the digital marketplace to the next level

While simple 3D visualization gives the customer the possibility to inspect a product thoroughly on their mobile device, not everyone’s imagination goes as far as to envision the product at home. Unfortunate surprises do not have to happen ever again.

While it is one thing to see a chair in a shop, being able to virtually place it in the living room, adapt the colors and test the overall feeling this piece of furniture adds to the room, is unmet by the physical market place.

Augmented reality (AR) makes it possible. Combining 3D product configuration with AR gives shoppers the possibility to place products, as seen in the video above and below, directly in their homes. The gap between in-store and online retail is diminishing even more.

Technology is already able to offer an incredible range of detail: the 3D product configurator is able to realistically project the product in the home of the customers. The constant improvement of 3D modelling makes it hard to spot the difference between the physical product or the 3D copy.

The environment is profiting as well: shoppers often ordered products online to see if they would fit into their flat only to send them back later, which created a vast amount of waste. Switching to 3D product configuration, companies have to spend less on shipping transportation while simultaneously cutting CO2 emissions by saving resources.

2020 - the year of e-commerce

Due to COVID-19, the past months were troublesome for many retailers. Restricted opening hours and social distancing measures were posing a difficult new reality onto physical shop-owners: whether they survived the pandemic was dependant on how large they were and how essential they were deemed.

While physical stores were struggling, online retailers were mostly spared. The apparent solution: diversifying the sales channels. Within the first half of the year, an incredible shift from physical to digital shops could be registered.

The chart below clearly shows e-commerce was immensely rising within the first half of the year. Retailers and manufacturers were forced to adapt: 18.6% of the overall income of physical stores resulted from online product sales.

The COVID-pandemic impacted the online retail thoroughly. (chart by digitalcommerce360.com)

Within the last few months, the shopping behavior changed world-wide. Less people are willing to visit non-essential shops in-store and discovered the benefits of online shopping. Due to the adapted behavior of customers, the market started changing as well.

The projections are definite: eCommerce will rise in every business area, making physical stores appear dull. (picture by zdnet)

With a vastly growing digital market, it is crucial to generate a competitive advantage. Many retailers and manufacturers from differing branches will be incentivized to upgrade their current visual e-commerce experience in order to keep up with the growing demand.

The re-invention of visual e-commerce

The concept of visual e-commerce is simple: its goal is to give the customer enticing visual content which gives the company competitive advantages. 65% of the population are deemed to be visual learners: thrilling imagery and new visual experiences are bound to win them over. This is exactly what a 3D product configurator ensures: an augmented shopping experience that results in more e-commerce sales.

Furniture shopping becomes easier than ever: choosing a product, adapting color and placing it within the virtual model of a room.

According to the SAP/eCommerce Foundation 2019 USA eCommerce Report, highly-engaged customers spend 60% more money per transaction if 3D models are used. This tech innovation not only catches the customer’s attention, but makes them grow fond of a product more easily as well.

Pictures are processed 60 times faster than words - making visual content a powerful tool for online shopping. Therefore, it is no surprise why the same survey concludes that customers are also led to buying 90% more frequently when 3D product visualization is implemented.

The pioneers of 3D visualization

Many shops are already offering 3D product configurators and AR options to their customers. While having an online shop is no longer a rarity, 3D visualization can be the USP setting a company apart from their competition.

  1. Eye-wear digital try on: online eye-wear manufacturers like MISTER SPEX provide their customers the possibility to digitally try their glasses and see if they fit shape of their face and eyes - something only physical stores were able to offer in the past.

  2. Furniture display: the application Roomle offers their customer’s a virtual rebuild of their flat and the possibility to furnish it as they wish with products from remarked furniture stores. Turning furnishing into a fun activity while eliminating the stress of pieces not fitting into the flat.

The room planner offers a playful 3D experience. Furniture retailers are able to benefit as well by adding their own products to the Roomle portfolio.
  1. Shoe model display: NIKE is using 3D product visualization to enhance their production chain - instead of having to produce physical prototypes of a model, they switched to 3D models. This enables the company to develop more designs in less time.

The advantages of 3D visualization - a summary

Within this article, many advantages of using 3D product visualization for your online solution were made. To give a complete overview of the points listed, the following summary should help:

  • thorough product inspection without having to leave the house, unrestricted by opening hours
  • offering “try-before-you-buy” virtually
  • the products become easily adjustable, switching between color and models
  • makes it possible to place products at home, commitment-free and environmentally friendly
  • pandemic-proof sales channel
  • competitive advantage over regular online stores
  • augmented shopping experience attractive to customers, leading to an increase in product sales

What the future has to offer

3D visualization will be integral to online retail in the future. In April 2019, Gartner’s report predicted up to 100 million consumers using AR to enhance their shopping experience: they were right. Until 2021, the AR market is expected to reach a promising worth of 133 million USD.

Especially in times of COVID-19, it is only a matter of time until 3D product visualization becomes the default of online retail. This advancement of the digital market is not merely a substitute of the in-store shopping experience, but offers the clients a wider range of possibility and room to individualize and optimize. Online shops unwilling to adapt will be quickly overrun by their competitors.