Virtual Reality (VR) Photography has made a big splash in plenty of verticals this past year. Real estate and travel companies are taking full advantage of the technology and creating immersive virtual experiences in which clients can take a tour of a resident or destination without ever leaving their couch.
It has also become a powerful selling tool in the automotive industry, allowing car dealers to sell online and give their customers greater confidence that the vehicle they are buying is the perfect one for them.
Innovative companies are catching on and using Virtual Photography as a tool to eliminate photography costs and scale their product catalogue unlike ever before. If you're considering investing in this technology, we’ve put together 10 facts you’ll want to know about in 2021.
Virtual photography is smart marketing.
While many content initiatives can take months or even years to pay for themselves, VR photography offers a quick return on investment. Additionally, the technology is still new enough to give online retailers an edge over their competition that doesn’t offer the same digital experience for shoppers.
“Threekit makes the impossible possible for Crate and Barrel through image creation technology that unlocks massive scale and quality to keep our customers engaged and delighted.”
Geoffrey Mark - Crate & Barrel
Increase customer engagement with VR photography.
Especially for the real estate and travel verticals, virtual tours can drive success through increasing consumer confidence by offering a more complete and engaging visual experience than static photographs can provide. This same logic can be used to determine product engagement on eCommerce sites as well.
A Google study found that virtual tours are good for business.
Naturally, any real estate firm that uses virtual tours to market its properties online will have a competitive advantage. A Google study reiterated the importance of VR photography and virtual tours for business listings in finding that people’s interest in local businesses increased by two times when the company had a 360-degree virtual tour as part of their website. Sixty-seven percent of respondents in the same study wanted to see more businesses include virtual tours on their website.
Virtual home tours generate interest and sell properties.
Virtual tours for real estate have become the norm in real estate marketing, sparking more interest from potential customers than photography or video tours do alone. This type of visual marketing is also attractive to customers who might be looking for a home out of state, or who are in situations that make it difficult for them to tour a home in person.
Virtual photography stimulates sales.
Virtual photography can create a more immersive shopping experience across all verticals, but has been found to be especially successful in certain industries, such as travel. In 2016, the team at Social Bakers looked at how 360-degree content performed against conventional videos and photos on Facebook. They found that travel companies, in particular, used VR photography to generate customer engagement and sales through social media posts.
Even Google likes VR photography.
In a multifamily case study, Google was found to favor virtual imaging over flat digital photography, with a 2:1 ratio preference of thumbnail display. This means that when a business has a virtual tour connected to their listing for Google My Business, Google’s algorithms will display those 360 thumbnails over traditional still photography.
Shoppers on mobile devices prefer virtual photography to video or 2D images.
Although videos and images are useful on a product page when selling inventory online, neither achieve the same as a 360-degree spin of the product, business, home, or room as a visual feature. The ability to visualize a location, product, or service offering from all angles provides a boost to customer satisfaction and confidence, especially for customers on mobile devices.
3D images can reduce returns and decrease buyer's remorse.
With virtual photography, what you see is what you get. As companies struggle to reduce return rates without raising their costs or changing return policies, virtual photography technology allows customers to make more informed decisions when it comes to purchases. Virtual photography allows customers to see details of the location or product in a more accurate representation than what still images or video alone can achieve. For example, after using 360° and 3D photography to enhance its online product catalogue, The Home Depot reported 35% fewer product returns.
3D has the power to generate sales.
Houzz.com, which offers more than 10 million home décor products and furniture from 20,000 retailers, has realized the power of Virtual Photography in boosting sales. Co-founder and President Alon Cohen says that much of their success has come from letting consumers see three-dimensional images of products in their homes. With the Houzz mobile app, shoppers can view 1 million products as 3D images—up from 300,000 when the 3D feature was added last year—and 2 million consumers have used the visualization tool when making purchases. Cohen also states that shoppers who view 3D images of products are 11 times more likely to purchase those who don’t view them.
Virtual photography is favored in the automotive industry.
Research by Social Bakers found that the automotive industry wasn’t far behind the travel industry in their use of VR photography for social media posts, with 54% of company pages publishing 360-degree posts. This shows the scope of industries in which VR photography can be used to create a more immersive shopping experience for customers. Being able to see a 360-degree view of the interior and exterior of a car goes a long way in promoting the confidence of customers making an online purchase.