Marketers look to upgrade their 3D digital experiences as the metaverse approaches

Nov 10, 2021 | Social Media Marketing SMM News

Mark Zuckerberg’s prediction that customers will one day interact in the “metaverse” has brought new attention on how digital customers interact with products three-dimensionally online. Yes, businesses of all stripes should be thinking about how their products and experiences might render, one day, in a virtual, 3D world. But even in current e-commerce and social media environments, customers are looking at 3D versions of products and buying them. Embracing these experiences might not just make your business cool, it will also make you money.

“Spatial computing is now possible,” said Ashley Crowder, co-founder and CEO of 3D content management system VNTANA. “We don’t need to interact in 2D and that opens up a whole world of new possibilities. You need a 3D version of your product, and you need it on your website where it increases cart size and reduces returns.”

In recent weeks, marketers have heard a lot of buzz about 3D-rendered experiences, most notably driven by the change of Facebook’s parent company’s name to Meta Platforms. Now businesses are trying to calculate what this means for their strategy if the idea of a future “metaverse” catches on, and users interact socially, or potentially shop, in a VR-constructed space.

Customers want to “see” what they buy

The COVID pandemic caused a paradigm shift in retail with more shoppers buying online or buying in-store after first researching online. Matt Gorniak, CEO of 3D visual commerce platform Threekit, calls this new, closer digital interaction between customers and the products they buy online “visual commerce.”

“If you’re selling consumer products, the expectations now are that it will happen digitally and you’ll be able to experience the product,” Gorniak said. “The next frontier is seeing the products themselves that you’re buying, not just seeing an image of the product.”

Read next: How visual commerce is transforming the customer experience

Even though 3D product imaging would be required for a fully immersive VR environment, 3D applications already exist for web and mobile e-commerce, as well as augmented and mixed reality use cases. For instance, a virtual try-on for a pair of glasses allows the product to be seen from different angles in 3D when merged with the image of the customer’s face.

That experience, it turns out, can often help in getting customers to buy. “Just seeing the 3D version of a product online, where you can see every single angle in true 3D, increased average cart value for our client Diesel,” said Crowder.

While 3D experiences can get a customer closer to a sale, marketers can also glean valuable insights from customers about the features or attributes of a product that they like thanks to this technology. For example, if consumers can customize a jacket with their preferred pattern or color, or they can design a car with the features they want, that data on customizations can help companies understand what customers want from their product.

The tech

Marketers aren’t waiting for some official metaverse to take shape in order to present their products in a virtual environment. There are a number of places already where customers are looking for and experiencing 3D versions of products. In many of those cases, 3D platforms are required to create those experiences.

For the VNTANA CMS, businesses can import a 3D product design, and the system makes it easier to show 3D versions of the product on social, AR and VR platforms. In this way, what customers experience online is accurate and based on the design of the product.

Threekit works in a similar way by allowing marketers to create renderings that can be placed in several digital channels.

Gorniak sees 3D shopping and product development as an important link for visual commerce. Because of all the permutations of even a simple product like clothing, or basic furniture, the 3D experience has to be scalable and automated.

Not only end customers can benefit, but also professional (B2B) buyers for retailers can get more information by probing a 3D model.

“For the most part, on 99 percent of consumer sites, there are millions of products and parts, and only a fraction of that is visible to you,” said Gorniak. “B2B buyers say come see us. No, I don’t want to see you. I want to see if you have what I want. If I can see it in 3D, I’ll buy it quickly. And then I won’t return it. As a result, ROI is off the charts.”

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