Technology is an engine of change across all industries. Whenever new tech is invented or new advancements are made, the way of doing business changes in response. In the retail sector, the advent of the internet led to a paradigm shift; ecommerce emerged and grew as an industry, challenging traditional store-based operations.
Today, technological developments are changing the face of ecommerce itself. The ability to introduce 3D and AR visualizations on ecommerce sites is revolutionary. It’s profoundly changing the experience those sites provide to their customers, leading to a new normal in the kinetic world of ecommerce…
Shop ‘til your connection drops
The major pull of ecommerce has always been convenience. What makes ecommerce so appealing is the ease with which customers can buy what they want from their sofa, rather than going to the mall. Yet this industry has always faced significant challenges, such as the inability to fully replicate the in-store customer experience. Online customers don’t have as much scope to judge a product. They can’t tell how it feels, how it smells, or even how it may suit their desired purpose. They have to rely on photographs, descriptions written by the seller, or reviews from other customers. That’s far from an ideal scenario (especially considering our growing cynicism towards internet reviews), and partly explains the high rate of returns for products bought online.
This challenge for ecommerce companies has been exacerbated in recent years by the rising popularity of mobile devices. Such devices have less screen real estate, meaning there is even less room for images and descriptions to sell products. Happily, technology is now coming to the rescue in the shape of 3D and AR visualizations.
The earliest ecommerce sites were little more than digitized catalogs, and in many ways, things haven’t changed much. The development of 3D and augmented reality (AR) technology is turning that on its head. Sites are leveraging these technologies to change the whole ecommerce experience. 3D renderings of products make the online buying process more interactive. Customers can manipulate the product using their mouse or even their fingers, looking at it from every conceivable angle. This improves their sense of the product, enhancing overall engagement with the site.
AR visualizations take things one step further. They offer potential buyers the chance to virtually experience a product prior to purchase. They can ‘place’ a piece of furniture in their living room to check it goes with their décor, or position a new top against a pair of pants to see whether they complement each other. This doesn’t just emulate the in-store buying experience – it starts to improve upon it.
3D and AR visualizations gel with another key feature of modern ecommerce. Many customers now expect customization to be offered by online stores, such as being able to change the color, pattern or styles of different items. With a few mouse clicks, 3D and AR technology let them see how these changes might affect the appearance of a potential purchase.
The new normal
3D and AR visualizations are helping the realities of ecommerce to catch up with the theory. Buying online has always excelled for convenience, but it’s sometimes fallen short as a customer experience. These technological developments make buying online as close to buying in-store as possible while eliminating the effort. Any site retaining flat 2D images risks being left behind, since 3D renderings and AR experiences are sure to become the new normal. This technology is changing the face of ecommerce, both radically and permanently.