So you want to create an interactive 3D model of your merchandise. Great! Interactive 3D is a highly effective way to communicate product details that can’t easily be captured by images or explained in copy.
But before you create an interactive 3D model for your website, it’s important to make sure that interactive 3D is the right product imaging choice.
Here, we’ll break down five use cases where 3D product imaging makes the most sense so you can be confident that you choose the product imagery type most likely to improve web conversions and increase customer satisfaction.
1: Products with Infinite or Near-Infinite Configurability
We know that providing online shoppers images of the products they’re thinking of buying increases the likelihood that they’ll make a purchase. And as the quality and number of images increases, so does a customer’s likelihood of hitting “Buy.”
But what happens when you sell a product that’s infinitely (or nearly infinitely) configurable? In that case, you can’t possibly provide pre-rendered images of every possible configuration. That’s why this is a great use case for 3D interactive.
Because interactive 3D assets are created in real time, as shoppers make modifications, they’re perfect for highly configurable products. Our clients have seen great success, for example, using interactive 3D for modular sofas, office chairs, and watches.
So if you're selling products that are highly configurable, 3D product imaging may be a good fit.
2: Personalizable Products
Personalization, of course, is the ultimate configurability: when you let shoppers add one-of-a-kind touches to products, you are by definition letting them create a completely unique item. When you allow personalization, any visual representation you create of the personalized product must be rendered in real time. There’s simply no way to predict the ways shoppers will personalize.
By creating an interactive 3D model for personalizable products, you let customers see exactly what their creation will look like as they build it. This helps boost conversion rates, as it gives shoppers the confidence that the piece they’re creating looks exactly the way they want it to.
We’ve seen interactive 3D work well for the full spectrum of personalizable items, from mugs you can personalize with a photo to engagement rings to kitchen countertops that can be cut to any shape or size.
3: Products Sold to a B2B Audience
In B2C ecommerce, image quality and composition are of paramount importance. Product imagery for this group has to do the heavy lifting of catching the attention of distracted customers scrolling through their social media feeds and otherwise living their three-screens-at-a-time lives.
But in B2B sales, communicating information is much more important than grabbing the eye. B2B buyers need to know that the product they’re about to buy from your website meets their specs – they usually don’t care whether it looks appealing.
And increasingly, B2B buyers are indeed looking to buy from your website. A recent study from Forrester found that 62 percent of B2B shoppers say they can develop criteria and build a vendor list exclusively by looking at online content. That means your product imagery has to convey a lot of information.
Interactive 3D shapes are highly effective at doing that.
They’re also great for letting B2B shoppers verify that they’ve placed the correct order. Imagine an office manager, for example, who’s ordering a batch of furniture for the new employees starting next month.
An interactive 3D image can let them verify in seconds that the colors and configurable features they’ve selected match with what already exists in the office. Interactive 3D also makes it easier to catch any mistakes than, say, verifying a list of SKUs, which could take hours of cross-referencing. While two SKUs might be nearly identical, two interactive 3D renderings show immediately whether something looks the way it should.
B2B sellers that have large catalogs can also benefit from interactive 3D. Because images render in real time, the seller doesn’t have to pre-render all its merchandise; rather, it can render on an as-needed basis to illustrate the components of a customer’s order. This saves time and computing power while also offering crystal-clear communication.
4: Self-Assembled Products
If you’ve ever bought (ahem) certain Swedish furniture and lost a weekend trying to put it together or stayed up until dawn Christmas morning building your kids’ gifts, you can appreciate how effective a 3D assembly guide would be. If you sell products your customers will have to build themselves, you can make their lives much easier by using interactive 3D to offer assembly guides.
5: Products with a Complex Owner’s Manual
If you sell parts with a lot of moving pieces (think printers and copiers), you can reduce customer calls and service appointments by providing an interactive 3D owner’s manual. Illustrating common breaks and fixes in three dimensions lets customers self-service, which reduces downtime and therefore keeps everyone happier.
Supplementing Interactive 3D with High-Res 2D Images
The biggest weakness of interactive 3D is that it offers a lower-resolution visual than 2D images. This is a necessary tradeoff to ensure that 3D shapes render quickly enough to be useful. But if you’re using interactive 3D in a retail setting and you’re interested in enhancing the shopper experience by providing some higher-definition images, you can.
Once a shopper has configured an item, you can offer to email them a 2D image of their configuration, which you can then create using virtual photography capabilities. This image, of course, will have a much higher resolution, which is important for retail shoppers.
By offering to send the image via email, you also give a compelling reason for customers to share their contact information with you, which means you can now nurture them through their customer journey.
Choosing the Best Product Imagery Options for Your Catalog
Curious about whether interactive 3D might work well with your product catalog? Wondering how other types of product imagery, like photorealistic 2D and AR (and the powerful photorealistic-2D-plus-AR combo) might help increase conversions on your website?
Set up a demo! We’d love to walk you through a few use cases that might work well for what you’re selling and resonate with your customers.