In the age of rapidly advancing technology, 3D online shopping powered by virtual reality has shown potential as a powerful new form of e-commerce. When the global pandemic struck in 2020, customers realized two things. First, they would rather shop online for safety and convenience. This was made evident by the increase in online shopping during that period.
However, they also realized that they missed the feeling of walking through the aisles of a physical store. There was no true substitute for getting lost in the experience of shopping. Sure, an AR (augmented reality) experience through a mobile phone had some appeal, but it can’t replace real world shopping.
Today, companies provide 3D online shopping experiences to bridge the gap.
3D online shopping: What is it?
Before we dive deep into 3D online shopping, let’s take a look at what it is. In simple terms, 3D online shopping is an e-commerce experience powered by virtual reality technology. It offers online shoppers the full experience of being in a physical store without leaving their homes or office.
The virtual store replicates real-world environments and allows customers to get a sense of the product in its actual size, color, and texture. It is, in essence, a digital twin of the retail store. It is designed to provide customers with an interactive shopping experience, complete with animations, avatars, and interactive elements.
The technology behind 3D online shopping involves creating 3D models of the product or store environment using a configurator. The configurator is a software solution that makes it easier for 3D artists to create a realistic virtual environment. With this 3D technology, retail stores can offer shoppers worldwide a superior customer experience that mimics real-world shopping.
Naturally, not every customer has a virtual reality headset, which is required to fully experience 3D online shopping. That’s why companies have developed 3D shopping viewers – an immersive view of the store that can be accessed from any device, desktop or mobile. This way, customers without headsets can still get a full breadth of what the store has to offer.
What types of stores can benefit from 3D online shopping?
You might wonder whether 3D online shopping suits all types of stores. The answer is more complex than yes or no. It depends on the kind of products you are selling and how much effort you want to put into creating a 3D virtual environment. However, we can confidently say that 3D online shopping can benefit a variety of stores.
At InContext, we’ve worked with large and small retailers, from grocery and convenience stores to big box brands. It’s safe to say that any store with physical products should consider 3D online shopping as an option.
Generally speaking, 3D online shopping benefits stores that want to:
Expand customer base
It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar stores are fairly limited in terms of reach. The only people that can visit your store in real life must live within a certain radius or be willing to travel. On the other hand, 3D online shopping allows retailers to reach customers all over the world without having multiple physical shops.
It can be integrated into your online store or website, allowing customers to virtually visit your store anytime. As such, you also benefit from longer “opening hours” since customers can visit your 3D store even when it’s closed. This helps retailers reach a larger customer base and tap into new markets.
Additionally, you can benefit from an increased number of visits to your 3D store. There are no physical constraints, meaning you can never have too many customers “in” the store. It opens up the opportunity to capture more sales and build customer relationships worldwide. Of course, you might consider implementing a shipping solution if you want to cater to international customers.
You can also require customers to sign up to access your 3D store and use this data to personalize their experience. This method contrasts with a physical store, where strangers can come in and browse without you having a record of their visit.
Provide dynamic shopping experiences for existing customers
E-commerce websites thrive when they adopt the newest trends and keep up with their online customers’ expectations. A few years ago, that might have been as simple as adding AR visualizations to your product pages or offering a more streamlined checkout process. Today, those experiences are almost expected.
Those who want to stay ahead of the curve can implement virtual reality technologies to offer the ultimate shopping experience. The novelty of 3D online shopping can attract curious customers who are looking to try something new. After all, it provides a unique shopping experience that is hard to find anywhere else on the web.
Another reason to offer more than one shopping experience is to cater to different types of customers. Everybody has preferences when it comes to shopping. Some customers might prefer to stay in the comfort of their homes and shop online, while others prefer to visit a physical store. Now, 3D online shopping offers a third option that can appeal to both types of customers.
Let’s take car dealership showrooms as an example. With 3D online shopping, customers can take a virtual tour of the showroom and explore different models without having to step foot on the lot physically. Maybe they don’t want to deal with pushy salespeople or live too far away from the dealership. In either case, 3D online shopping can solve their problem.
As a result, 3D stores work best for retailers who want to provide various shopping experiences for both their current and potential customers.
Finally, VR shopping enables people who can’t make it in-store to get a dynamic shopping experience. Merchandising doesn’t have the same effect when it’s just a flat 2D image on your website. With 3D online shopping, customers can explore the store in full 360° and gain an understanding of how products are laid out in physical stores.
It can also assist those with disabilities who may have difficulty accessing a physical store. For instance, someone in a wheelchair can go up the stairs of your two-story shop just by clicking their mouse, or reach shelves that would be too high in a physical aisle.
You could also translate your shop into multiple languages, making it easier for international customers to understand the products you are selling and make informed decisions about their purchases.
Accessibility doesn’t only apply to the customer, either. As a retailer, you can also benefit from 3D online shopping in terms of ease and convenience. You can easily share videos recorded in the 3D store on social media and encourage customers to watch them.
The bottom line is that 3D online shopping can make it easier for everyone to shop, regardless of their background or physical abilities.
Benefits of a 3D online shopping experience
If you’re still on the fence about investing in 3D online shopping, you might want to hear the full suite of benefits that comes with it. These benefits will vary depending on your specific business and customers, but the following list provides a good overview of what you can expect from implementing VR shopping in your business:
Grow customer base
As mentioned above, 3D online shopping allows you to reach shoppers you couldn’t reach with an in-store experience. The e-commerce market is thriving and growing, so competition is bound to be fierce.
By offering 3D online shopping, you can break into the market and stand out from your competition by providing a unique experience that nobody else is offering. The immersive experience is more likely to meet customer expectations and draw in more customers from different parts of the world.
A growing customer base will undoubtedly increase your business’s online sales, which will lead to higher profits. Think of it as an investment that will pay off in the long run. Your online retail sales have the potential to skyrocket if done correctly.
Furthermore, product visualization can be done on both desktop and mobile devices, so you can reach an even larger audience. With mobile retail e-commerce sales expected to surpass $710 billion by 2025, it’s clear that mobile shoppers are an ever-growing segment of the customer shopping base. Being able to offer a 3D shopping experience on mobile devices can be the difference between closing and losing a sale.
Boost customer engagement
Simply increasing brand awareness and website traffic might not be enough. You also want to increase conversion rates and average order value. Just like adding Apple Pay and PayPal checkout options can increase conversions, so too can 3D online shopping experiences. Every step of the customer journey should be fun and intuitive.
The 3D shopping experience will bring customers into the store and give them an immersive experience that they won’t soon forget. Customers are more likely to stay on your site longer if they have a great time navigating through it, which can result in higher conversion rates. With features like virtual try-on and gamification of the retail experience, customers have incentives to interact with your brand.
These functionalities need to be tailored to your customer’s needs and expectations. With the help of AI-powered technologies, you can ensure you are getting the most out of your 3D store. For instance, you could implement a chatbot to answer customer inquiries and guide them through the experience.
Finally, 3D online shopping experiences can extend beyond the store itself by providing consumers with a platform to share their purchases and views with their friends on social media. This increases your brand’s reach, engagement, and potential sales.
Improve information access
Nobody likes to wade through a giant block of text to find the information they’re looking for. Thankfully, customers can quickly access product information without having to scroll endlessly through long product descriptions. Virtual shopping experiences can provide dynamic product info, such as nutritional facts, ingredients, materials, and more. This information will be presented in an engaging way as it would be in a physical store.
Furthermore, this type of shopping experience also allows customers to make better real-time buying decisions. They can see what the product looks like, how it works, and whether it suits their needs. Customers can also compare several products side by side to decide which one is the best. Ultimately, that should reduce the need for returns and refunds.
This feature is particularly useful for complex products that require thorough research and analysis. Customers can use the measurement mode to visualize the size of the product, and they can also interact with it to get a better idea of how it works. As a retailer, you can add tags to highlight essential features and product specs, making it easier for customers to draw accurate comparisons.
Personalized shopping experience
In a physical store, every customer is met with the same experience. Your store cannot change to fit the individual needs of each customer. However, with 3D online shopping powered by virtual reality technology, you can create a personalized experience for each of your customers, or by season or occasion.
A customizable eCommerce experience can be based on what your customers might be shopping for at different times of the year. For example, you could create a virtual “March Madness” store that goes beyond the typical chips and dips display, and include apparel, decor, frozen foods, even TVs to watch the games–all in one convenient space. In another example, you can leverage virtual shopper data to create product displays that highlight new items or discounts that may interest them.
This type of tailored experience can go a long way in increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty to your brand. Along the way, you’ll gather invaluable insights into what your customers like and don’t like, which will inform future marketing strategies. Data gathered from 3D online shopping experiences can be used to optimize the customer experience, making it a win-win for both you and your customers.
Is your store suited for a 3D online shopping experience?
The question remains: Is your physical store suited for a 3D online shopping experience? We believe that both e-commerce sites and physical stores can benefit from 3D rendering. The key is to provide customers with a memorable and immersive experience that will keep them coming back for more.
The future of retail is here, and the time to invest in VR online shopping is now. Use it for a pop-up shop, a virtual showroom, or even as an extension to your existing physical store. This technology can help you reach further than ever before and create a truly one-of-a-kind shopping experience that is sure to make your customers happy.
Contact InContext for more information
InContext Solutions is a leading provider of 3D online shopping experiences. Our solutions are tailored to fit your store, regardless of size or scope. We strive to keep up with the latest trends in virtual retail and provide the best solutions that fit your needs. Our team has extensive experience working with AR and VR technology and can help you build an effective 3D online shopping experience.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business.