Visuals are a key component of the customer journey, and any efforts to improve visual representations are bound to pay off with significant ROI. Research shows that users aren’t satisfied with the quality of pictures displayed at many stores and are constantly searching for higher-quality images and shots from specific angles. With ecommerce booming and the number of online shoppers constantly growing, both new and established stores can obtain a competitive edge by implementing 3D modeling in their catalogues.

What is 3D modeling? 

We are currently living through the adoption stage for this technology. Initially, there were only 2D images. Then 360-degree illustrations started to gather steam. However, neither of these methods is on par with 3D modeling.

3D modeling enables an artist to create a photorealistic digital copy of the product. As compared to 360-degree images, a 3D model enables ecommerce businesses to display a holistic representation which can be zoomed in and looked at from any angle. 

What types of 3D product models can we use in ecommerce?

Without getting too deep into the reeds, there are 3 main approaches to creating 3D product models:

#1. 3D Scanning

3D scanning is performed with special equipment or using DSLR cameras. The main advantage is that it’s extremely realistic (potentially, down to a micron). The main drawback is that you can’t differentiate between specific parts of the 3D model for customization since all of them are indivisible parts of the overall image.

Another drawback is the higher density of the resulting image. Uploading such 3D models on the web will result in prohibitively large loading time which will decimate user experience. A solution would be to reduce the size of the image. However, in many cases this renders the image unusable overall.

#2. Image-based 3D models

Image-based 3D models enable customization

A 3D artist receives images of your products and creates 3D models manually. It’s a highly creative and time-consuming process that requires experience, patience and discipline. Finding a diligent 3D artist is hard and they tend to charge significant rates for their work.

With such models, it’s possible to customize specific parts of the product. For instance, with snickers, users would be able to pick colors for the tongue, sides and bottom.

In addition, 3D artists can adjust density and quality so that the asset is web-ready while still being on par.

#3. CAD-based 3D models

If your business has any CAD assets for the products, it makes sense to hire a 3D artist who will create 3D renderings based on them. 

As compared to image-based modeling, it will be possible to utilize dimensional data in order to eliminate any deformations and inconsistencies. Your 3D artist will probably use some SaaS-based tools like ONU’s converter. ONU enables you to try out the service for free before actually engaging the 3D talent. In this way, you can see what kind of 3D assets you can generate on your own and what improvements they might need.

You can read more about the types of 3D modeling techniques in this blog post (under the subheading “So You’re Convinced, Now What?” there).

3D modeling in ecommerce: use cases and benefits

If you pick 3D scanning, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the benefits below, except for customization. This option is only available with 3D models based on images and CADs.

#1. 3D Viewer

Among 3D viewers, Sketchfab’s service offers all the capabilities you’ll want without morassing your team in too many technicalities. All you need to do is generate code and paste it inside a special container on your site. Thus, even a non-techy will easily make it work with a modern 3D viewer in their hands.

You users will enjoy a great 3D model for the product, able to view it from different angles and, possibly, inside out too.

#2. 3D Configurator

As this blog post points out, consumers always want to see the specific model they are going to purchase. Enabling them to configure various settings solves for this use case.

Example of 3D configurator from youtube

Empower your marketing team with this new tool and unleash their creativity. They’ll use target groups in order to identify what kind of features customers want to play with. If you manage to incorporate them into a 3D configurator you like most, you are bound to see your SEO metrics go up because this is exactly what your customers want. 

#3. Complement and potentially squeeze out photography assets 

BlueEntCAD team believes that 3D modeling for ecommerce has what it takes in order to squeeze out the conventional photo assets as we know them. Naturally, we are not calling for you to stop using 2D images and rely exclusively on 3D assets, but it makes perfect sense to publish product pages with 3D visualizations when the photographs aren’t there yet.

In this way, you’ll be able to shorten the path between ideation and actual consumption by your customers, garnering valuable insights from their feedback faster. Prototyping will particularly win from this approach.

#4. Eliminate the need for visiting physical stores

3D modeling is a cornerstone for the emerging VR/AR-enabled shopping practices

As we’ve said in the introduction, even small stores can compete with giants by providing exceptional user experience. 3D modeling for ecommerce and embedded annotations with important pieces of information can set your store apart from the bigger ecommerce outlets. With users looking for ways to actually avoid visiting physical stores, you can tap into this sentiment and provide them with the tools to view the product in an optimal manner and avoid the need in offline shopping.

#5. Start on your journey into AR/VR

Ecommerce – and web overall – is gradually moving into the epoch with AR/VR assets at the core. It’s just that these visualizations are much more powerful than any videos or 2D pictures. Your forays into 3D modeling for your ecommerce project can set you up for a successful transformation within an emerging environment since it’s possible to convert them for use in combination with AR/VR technologies.

Conclusion:

We’ve been seeing the rise of 3D modeling. With democratized access to this technology, it makes sense to jump on the bandwagon and start tinkering with this new enabler. It will bring a fresh impetus to your marketing activities and attract users with realisticity and ability to fully discern even the minute features of the product.