Retailers can take advantage of VR by offering virtual tours of their rooms to answer common questions or alleviate anxiety. For example:
- Grocers could even take a tour of the gluten-free section of their store, even through the factories where gluten-free food is produced. This would remove concerns about contamination for allergy sufferers and other dietary restrictions.
- Mass retailers could offer site-specific tours aimed at parents hoping to skip the toy or candy aisle and avoid shouting.
- Gyms could give potential members the opportunity to visit the facility without interrupting the sweaty training of existing members. This also has the advantage that the facility is presented in top form and not the way it is most frequented.
Admittedly, this experience requires that buyers own VR headsets. While overall acceptance is still modest, improvements in features are attracting more and more consumers, so VR tours are likely to be more effective in the near future.
3D Renderings: Sale without prototype.
When it comes to using 3D for product visualizations, there are actually two different strategies: 3D product renderings for creating photorealistic two-dimensional images and interactive 3D.
The former involves using software to create hyper-realistic 2D images from CADs or other digital designs. This process is extremely cost-effective compared to traditional photography, in part because it allows retailers to adjust and manipulate images as needed after the initial image creation.
Creating images from 3D renderings can be especially useful when:
- A product or product type has not yet been manufactured, but you would like to start accepting orders.
- You have a limited budget for photo shoots (e.g. if you want to have photos of your product at a distance, 3D renderings can make this possible without the cost of an on-site photo shoot)
- They have a large catalogue of articles.
- Your catalogue is updated regularly.
- You want to experiment with different backgrounds.
- You want 360-degree images.
The crucial point is that users cannot tell the difference between images created from renderings and “real” photos. So, for a fraction of the cost of traditional photography, you can get results of similar or better quality.
Interactive 3D: resolves all doubts.
Another way to use 3D is to create fully interactive 3D visualizations on your website, which the customer can manipulate, animate or configure according to his needs. This technology tends to work best for:
- Expensive or high-quality items that the buyer wants to see from all sides before buying.
- Elements with complicated details, including components for machines.
- Items that are returned frequently (the ability to see something from all angles prevents surprises and can reduce the number of returns)
- Technical articles with complex interiors that can be illustrated with virtualized failures (like a football helmet with additional safety features)
When shoppers manipulate interactive 3D visualizations on handheld devices, they enjoy an intimacy similar to that of a brick and mortar store, which can help them gain confidence in what they are buying.