When looking at eCommerce the advantages of 3D product representations are obvious. You can’t get closer to the real product, except with a visit to your local brick-and-mortar store. So why haven’t online shops adopted this technology? Why does not every single online shop use 3D representation to increase conversions and drop their rate of returns? All qualitative and quantitative studies as well as promising results of early adopters in the industry indicate the benefits of selling products in 3D.
The problem so far
Looking back, the attempts to mass sell consumer ready virtual reality technology started as early as 1995 in the gaming industry with the launch of Nintendo’s Virtual Boy. It continues to this day with for example Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s Mixed Reality. They all failed to take off and still kind of fail to attract a decent number of customers and content developers nowadays. Nearly 25 years and loads of technological leaps later and the market still seems to be uninterested. The gaming world is just one example of many, and gamer are by far one of the most interested groups when it comes to adapting new technology. Loads of attempts were also made in E-commerce as well as in the educational sector. There are of course a few instances where the use of 3D technology in eCommerce was successful. Lately 3D technology has been used by for example Adidas with the Deerupt campaign. Customers, who had the empty box of a pair of Deerupts could scan a little marker and experience the Deerupt in augmented reality through their smartphone. Imagine the costs of this campaign alone. Developing this kind of know-how just to show one pair of shoes seems like a waste. Keep in mind that this kind of publicity stunt is only doable for the big players in the market. Small manufacturers as well as re-sellers or your average online shops can only dream of making this kind of money, let alone spending it, to market one specific launch of a pair of shoes.
Taking all this into consideration one can say that 3D technology until now was not ready to be implemented into ecommerce in a fast, scalable and affordable way. All solutions so far meant for the customer to join an ecosystem via for example downloading an app or buy expensive hardware. Companies, small and big alike, did not fare better. Developing and maintaining 3D technology to present your products, which is ready to serve millions of customers per day, is not an easy task and certainly an expensive one. This has been the case since the dawn of this technology, even if it was readily available for nearly 25 years now.
Although e-commerce is as an ever-growing industry, online shops face a bulk of problems even when not considering implementing new technology. Keeping conversion rates high in a very competitive market as well as an increasing number of consumers returning products are diminishing profitability. To tackle this problem head on online shops need to stand out as well as to present their products in a way the consumers are less likely to return them.
Products do not meet expectations of buyers
In 2017 nearly 51% of all customers reported a dissatisfaction with the products they received because they did not meet their expectations (Centiro). This is mainly because pictures have a hard time to come close to reality, which allows customers to inspect the products from all sides and gain a good overview of the looks and functionality. Furthermore, in a study from 2019 nearly 41 % of all online shops interviewed, reported to spend between 10-21% of their total marketing budget for conversion optimisation alone (Trakken). To make it short acquiring and retaining customers as well as making them keep the products bought is a great deal in e-commerce.