January 26, 2021

Using 3D Technology in Retail

Choice, we have more of it than ever before.  Smartphones and other connected devices and the increasing dominance of ecommerce in the Retail space have caused a paradigm shift. Customers want to be more actively engaged in their purchasing decisions, wanting brands to offer deeper levels of customer service than in the past, and to have far greater choice with what options are on offer to them.

Some brands have stepped up to the challenge, offering different permutations of the same product (one style of running shoe available in black, pink, white or khaki, for example). A smaller number have gone further into consumer empowerment with customisable elements available on their ecommerce platform, either through drop down menu choices or via more sophisticated configuration software.  Mass customisation is here - but there’s more retailers can do with it.

Slow Pace of Adoption

Few brands have ventured into using 3D configurators. As a customer, seeing an image of the product is good, but there remains a lingering concern that it will fail to live up to expectations without a 3D visualisation you can walk around prior to making your purchase.

Failing to accurately visualise a product prior to purchase can be detrimental to brands. A weak customisation process—in which the consumer does not feel confident in what they can see on the screen—will increase cart abandonment levels.  Where a sale is made, dissatisfaction with the product purchased upon receipt can be costly in terms of returns, damaging customer sentiment and reducing the likelihood of repeat custom. 


Positive User Experience - Strategic Value

When a brand improves user experience with more accurate representation of products, particularly those that are individualised, they gain a strategic advantage. By presenting products in 3D, forward-thinking brands add an extra element of positive user experience. Customers view their prospective purchase from every angle, reviewing each customisation element as they progress. This helps buyers to know exactly what to expect from the physical product, giving them greater confidence and satisfaction in their choices.

A shift in customer sentiment, to a more personalised, bespoke shopping experience, necessitates a shift in how brands perceive and interact with their audience. Shoppers today want to be treated as individuals.  Brands have to focus on understanding customers on a one-to-one level.

How is this possible?

It may not be economically or technically feasible today to serve each customer individually, but a combination of customisation options and solid data analytics can, at least, work towards an individualised and tailored selection approach.  Sophisticated 3D configurator software, such as that offered by Modular, comes equipped with powerful data capture and analytics capabilities. This allows a brand to analyse customer configuration behaviour to map customer journeys across individual products.

Mass product customisation through the adoption of 3D configurator software offers brands a competitive advantage over rival brands not so sympathetic to customer wants and preferences. Data captured through configurator software maps buying behaviours and communicates to the brand which configuration options are proving most popular across their product line.  This meta data exposes buying preferences and equips brands to tailor future product offerings. Over time, brands can iteratively select options for future lines that better serve customer preferences.  It might even be possible to re-classify types of customers based on their profiles and selection habits, moving away from crude customer segmentations such as age, gender and territory. 

Economic Value

A satisfied customer stays with your brand, and is unlikely to switch to another based on price point alone. Where they feel they are afforded true value and an outstanding customer experience, these forms of value normally take priority over cost economies.  As most brands know, the cost of acquiring a new customer is higher than that of retaining an existing one, so the better the experience they are offered, the more likely they are to stay.

A personalised service, one that allows them to have input into the design of their purchase itself, is key to this. Satisfied customers coming back for further purchases play an important role in driving brand revenue, not only through their sales directly, but also through the positive word-of-mouth they offer potential new customers as a direct result of their satisfaction. The value of such brand advocacy is incredibly powerful, and it may just be that it is your implementation of 3D configuration software that tips the scales to create those all-important advocates.