Guess What? 3D Commerce Is Everywhere You Shop.

Beck Besecker
Oct 15 · 4 min read

From the digital-physical convergence of customer experience to an upheaval in the commercial real estate market, 3D commerce is showing up where you’d least expect it — in physical retail locations.

3D Commerce — the use of 3D content in all phases of the retail sales process — is sometimes misunderstood as purely for ecommerce. In fact, 3D Commerce has quietly become integral to physical retail. Everything from retail site selection, store format and store layout to personalization and online-to-offline shopping along with other facets of the in-store customer experience are being quietly disrupted by 3D.

To better understand the impact of 3D on retail real estate, I spent a few minutes with Lee Arnold, Executive Chairman of Colliers International Florida, a leading global real estate services and investment management company.

“The innovation era of retail is in full swing,” according to Arnold. “The mindset of [traditional] retail’s biggest players has moved from ‘I’ve got to be online,’ to agnostic retail.” No question that 3D has become instrumental in eliminating the awkward transitions between online-to-offline and offline-to-online shopping.

3D and the In-Store Customer Experience

3D is helping brands create an experience that goes beyond purely transactional, to one that builds an enduring relationship with the customer. Here’s four ways retailers with stores are using 3D to get real results:

  1. 3D delivers the personalization shoppers crave. “The bottom line is that bricks and mortar locations need to be able to scale personalization the way ecommerce does it — while running a store without an unlimited footprint,” Arnold said. “3D products and 3D visualization can personalize the in-store shopping experience, offering an endless combination of products in just a few thousand square feet.”

From 3D room design with realistic furniture to Augmented Reality try on apps for clothing, cosmetics and more, 3D allows retailers to provide access to every custom combination that they can sell and gives shoppers a truly personal experience at scale. Being able to show a custom product before it ordered, and helping customers see how products fit into their lives has a big payoff. See #2 for more detail on that.

2. Using 3D to sell more. Macy’s and John Lewis & Partners are both using in-store 3D room planners paired with Virtual Reality visualization to personalize the furniture sales process. Macy’s investment in in-store 3D is paying off.

VR-influenced furniture sales have increased basket size by more than 44 percent versus non-VR furniture sales and returns have decreased by 25 percent.

3. Inventory-free showrooms. Inventory is no longer required for in-store shopping — and according to Arnold it can even be a liability. “If a retailer is just a warehouse repository of goods, they will soon find retail real estate is too expensive for that purpose,” Arnold says. “Today’s margins cannot support non-unique storage of goods.” There’s also no way for stores to compete with the selection available online. Consumers are on the hunt for showrooms, services and experiences like those offered at reduced-inventory stores being tested by Ikea and Nordstrom.

Data show that customers visiting inventory-free showrooms spend up to 60% more on average, shop more often, buy from more categories and buy more expensive items.

4. Digital native brands are adding storefronts. Online furniture retailer Wayfair recently opened its first physical location, a 3,400 sf store in a mall outside of Boston. The store — at least 10x smaller than the bulk of stand-alone furniture stores — relies on 3D previews of products viewed on screens or using Virtual Reality. “VR and AR are becoming commonplace in the retail process. People like to shop, look, learn and experience — and fun is good for profits,” Arnold said.

Cashierless Amazon Go stores, furniture stores and direct-to-consumer companies including Warby Parker, BaubleBar, and Casper are filling the holes left by the Forever 21s of the world, while expanding their own platform-agnostic capabilities (Warby Parker launched an AR try-on app this year). Those that still aren’t using in-store 3D will be soon.

It’s easy to find in-store 3D applications in action. There are dozens of retailers using it at hundreds of locations across the nation. For instance, the Macy’s VR furniture design experience is available in 150 locations from Arizona to Illinois and New York to Washington — including the Macy’s flagship at Herald Square and at least five locations in my home state of Ohio. Marxent has several more furniture clients using our 3D room planner and VR in-store. And that’s just furniture.

The Gap has experimented with virtual fitting rooms that use 3D, Zara has a smattering of AR experience stores, and Nike has also used in-store 3D recently. Look around — 3D is the future and the future is now.


Near Future of Retail

Exploring the leading edge of retail as the digital-physical convergence unfolds: AI/ML, VR/AR, voice, IoT, digital spaces. Sharing what we see and why it matters, and channelling our collective wisdom into practical guidance for those with a vested interest in this near future.

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