How 3D Transforms the Online Shopping Experience

2/22/2021 Manoj Paul

How 3D Transforms the Online Shopping Experience

During the months of social distancing, businesses all over the world slowed down — except e-commerce. The expanding scope of e-commerce is helping businesses bring a new level of personalization and intuitiveness to customer experiences. 

The advent of Web 3.0 and simultaneous advances in three-dimensional (3D) technologies have made it a lot easier to virtualize brick and mortar stores. 

3D modeling enables realistic product imagery for home goods and furniture, shoes, clothing, and automotive items. It closely replicates the in-store experience for customers and also brings a whole host of business benefits for retailers.

According to Forrester’s “Scale Your Content Creation With 3D Modeling” report: “Virtual marketplaces where consumers can interact with constellations of 3D, photorealistic products — each customized in the moment — will shake up the retail and brand manufacturer world.”

Today’s technology for tomorrow’s experiences?

By enticing buyers to step into a virtually enriched, wrap-around 3D environment, brands not only create “wow” moments but also foster emotional engagements. End-user segments such as consumer packaged goods, hardware, electronics, fashion, fitness, and personal care have already begun to leverage the advancements in JavaScript frameworks and browser applications to offer disruptive 3D customer experiences.

Against the backdrop of the 5G rollout, the new Web 3.0 standard and Internet of Experiences (IoE) domains are powering today’s technology for tomorrow’s experiences. 5G networks can theoretically be 20x faster than 4G LTE, which means brands can design hyper-real experiences without worrying about technical challenges related to graphical rendering. 

The low latency, high reliability, and large bandwidth offered by 5G, when combined with the connected data enabled by Web 3.0, will give retailers all the information they need to create hyper-relevant customer experiences.

Augmenting the shopping experience

With customer expectations changing rapidly, the only way for brands to survive is to get ahead of the curve. 3D technology in combination with data, Web 3.0, and 5G, can be the magic mix that allows them to create individualized shopping experiences, both at-home and in-store.

Web 3.0 is the standard that will bring unique in-store experiences to customers — in the comfort of their own homes. 3D technology enhances these experiences, offering customers a deeper understanding of products and the flexibility to custom configure those products. 3D in AR can place shoppers in a data-rich environment, where they can interact with 3D models of products, compare product information, customer ratings, and even carbon footprint to make better choices and navigate in-store. 

These experiences also enable analysts to track customer behavior, product interactions, and use data to enhance the overall customer experience.

Expediting GTM with 3D

The path to creating value for retailers in the age of AR/VR/MR includes experimentation with 3D solutions — from modeling, sculpting, rendering, and animation to interactive experiences. This next-level engagement driven by 3D could be a game-changer as businesses pivot from product-centricity to customer-centricity.

In a new customer-obsessed marketplace, 3D solutions that present richer user experiences and accelerate go-to-market speeds will be powerful competitive differentiators.

In essence, the building blocks for offering the “CX of the Future” is already here. Even as we speak, we are witnessing the obsolescence of product photography as photo-realistic rendering takes hold. Businesses are also speeding up their go-to-market strategy by bringing interactive 3D experiences onto the customer’s personal device and extending them through VR/AR-enabled immersive environments.

3D is here to stay

3D solutions provide a multi-dimensional gateway that is much more than just a marketing tactic to reel in digital customers. In addition to exciting immersive experiences, 3D can be used to deliver:

  • Higher efficiencies: quick turnarounds, low costs, and consistency in reproduction across a range of products
  • Optimized site visits and training: completely eliminate the need for travel and logistics by simulating tours of facilities or locations; training people online on product usage and machinery operation has been found to be more effective
  • Deeper product experiences: exploded views allow consumers to see what products look like on the inside
  • Custom configurations: empowering consumers to configure a product with different parts, materials, and colors by offering them a real-time view of the product

Do it better with 3D 

From end-to-end interactive digital offerings to engaging customer experiences, 3D technology is currently redefining advertising, marketing, sales, and publishing by enabling high levels of:

  • Photo-realism: Interacting with various elements in 3D gives deeper insights into the product, objects, or tools, improving buying decisions and conversion rates.
  • Customization: 3D can configure products for custom needs, helping innovators create prototypes for testing and manufacturing in a simulated environment.
  • Value, product, and convenience: A well-executed 3D model brings an idea, concept, or product to life, making it much easier for customers to visualize how products function and perform.
  • 3D printing: 3D printing is replacing many prototyping and engineering methods in industries that deal with high-value products. It has found significant application in the manufacturing of electronics spare parts, engineering goods, prosthetics, and art.

Determining your next first step(s)

From our own experience, we know that to accelerate design, prototype, reduce costs, and optimize the supply chain, partnering with a creative service expert yields unbeatable advantages.  

With that said, for those brands serious about transforming their online shopping experience through 3D experiences, here are a few important things to consider regarding what comes next:

Prepare to invest. A 3D transformation in your online shopping experience would most likely involve a significant financial investment in new technology. At RRD, for example, we have invested significantly in the right technology to help those companies looking to leapfrog into the world of 3D customer experiences.

Start small. Test the waters. Take a single product or product line and do a trial run. A low-risk experiment can often achieve some initial quick wins.

Cater to customers. Communicating with consumers in the ways they prefer is critical. Embracing the demands, expectations and opportunities around immersive 3D interactions is paramount to elevating the customer experience across its entire journey.

Remember, as your organization looks to shake up its e-commerce experience, find comfort in knowing there are 3D solutions available to help you elevate your brand narrative and drive meaningful engagement.


Manoj Paul is Creative Director and Karthik Balasubramanian is Assistant Vice President of Operations for RRD GO Creative™. RRD Go Creative™ provides an extensive, multichannel creative services and business solutions suite that transforms the customer experience. From high-end 3D services like product design, VFX, and architectural renderings to volume-based 2D and 3D conversions for the e-commerce market, RRD GO Creative™ has the capacity and capability to scale and deliver high-quality photo-realistic output.

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