The Rise of Interactive Product Visualization

by Sandra Petrova

10 min read · Oct 22, 2019

Technology has ushered an exceptional way to create effective content that ambitious brands can use to build excitement, fund kickstarter campaigns, and engage more customers. It’s called product visualization, and it helps retailers and manufacturers stand out from the crowd and create a memorable online customer experience. But what is it, and how can it help your brand? Read on to learn more.

What Is Product Visualization?

“He turned the blade in the sunlight. Most Valyrian steel was a grey dark it looked almost black, as was true here as well. But blended into the folds was a red as deep as the grey. The two colors lapped over one another without even touching, each ripple distinct, like waves of night and blood upon some steely shore. The grip of the sword was of finely tooled red leather and gold lions’ heads for pommels.”

This brief excerpt from the world-renowned series of epic fantasy novels “Game of Thrones” is a fine example of brilliant storytelling. Writers often use clear and concise storytelling to engage an audience, help them visualize what they’re reading, and draw them in and grab their attention.

Designers and engineers, on the other hand, use product visualization to portray products in a visual manner realistically. When you think of it, product visualization is like visual storytelling.

Instead of using words, you’re now using 3D product rendering and visualization to create compelling imagery to tell a story. If a writer uses eloquent adjectives like “dazzling” and “nefarious,” engineers use product modeling, product illustrations, and animation to make products seem beautiful and attractive.

Prezi’s 2018 State of Attention Report found that people’s attention spans aren’t shrinking. They’re evolving. According to the study, people have become more selective about what they devote their attention to. In fact, 55% of all business professionals surveyed said a great story captures their focus and keeps them engaged with the content. And 33% said that visual stimulation is essential to maintaining their attention.

Product visualization is a captivating way to do just so. It can help you create an exhibition that stands out amidst a pool of brands and capture your visitors’ attention for more than just a few seconds.

Prezi 2018 State of Attention Report

Do All Product Development Projects Need Product Visualization?

Product visualization is suitable for brands that need to provide persuasive visuals that will attract consumers. Other businesses that merely have an idea for a product, but are seeking better insight on how a product will look and function can also benefit from product visualization. Why? Because it’ll help them identify any potential flaws in the development process.

Whether you’re in the cosmetics, automotive, or electronics industry, product visualization can help make your product development project a success.

Let’s take Apple as an example. They’ve been using product rendering for years. If you look at their trailer for the iPhone XS, everything in the video is 100% computer-generated. Every time you see a product spinning like there’s no gravity, it’s always CG-rendered. In a sense, that’s the beauty of product visualization - not to be constrained by the physical world.

Another player that’s using rendering is Ikea Online Planning. Using their product visualization tool, you can plan your dream living room, bathroom, or office. You can experiment and play with colors, designs, and sizes to see how your space will look like before making a purchase.

Nike, the leader in athletic footwear, has its personalized shoe software called NIKEiD, where you can customize your own pair of kicks. You can personalize anything from soles and performance options to colors to create your iconic sneakers.

IKEA product visualization

Why Companies Need It for E-Commerce?

Imagine‌ ‌this‌ ‌scenario.‌ ‌You‌ ‌want‌ ‌to‌ ‌buy‌ ‌a‌ ‌sofa‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌living‌ ‌room.‌ ‌To‌ ‌do‌ ‌this,‌ ‌you‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌your‌ ‌way‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌store ‌and‌ ‌see models on-site. Why? Because you want to check the material of the product, its color and functionalities from up close. This‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌traditional‌ ‌way‌ ‌of‌ ‌making‌ ‌a‌ ‌purchase‌ ‌where‌ ‌you‌ ‌see,‌ ‌in‌ ‌person,‌ ‌what‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌putting‌ ‌your‌ ‌money‌ ‌in‌ ‌for.‌ ‌

It’s‌ ‌the‌ ‌surest‌ ‌way‌ ‌to‌ ‌know‌ ‌that‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌100%‌ ‌happy‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌sofa ‌that‌ ‌will‌ ‌soon‌ ‌be‌ taking central stage in your living room.‌ ‌ ‌

However,‌ ‌the‌ ‌age‌ ‌of‌ ‌technology‌ ‌has‌ ‌changed‌ ‌the‌ ‌way‌ ‌people‌ ‌buy‌ ‌things.‌ ‌We’ve‌ ‌somehow‌ ‌grown‌ ‌accustomed‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌convenience‌ ‌of‌ ‌buying‌ ‌everything‌ ‌online,‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌comfort‌ ‌of‌ ‌our‌ ‌homes.‌ ‌We‌ ‌no‌ ‌longer‌ ‌want‌ ‌to‌ ‌waste‌ ‌time‌ ‌driving‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ store ‌to‌ ‌experience the sofa from up close.‌ ‌

We‌ ‌want‌ ‌to‌ ‌lounge‌ ‌comfortably‌ ‌on‌ ‌our‌ ‌couch,‌ ‌open‌ ‌up‌ ‌a‌ ‌bottle‌ ‌of‌ ‌wine,‌ ‌and‌ ‌customize‌ ‌our‌ ‌ideal‌ ‌product ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌help‌ ‌of‌ ‌technology-supported‌ ‌product‌ ‌visualization.‌

E-commerce brands must keep up with the trends and give their customers what they desire. If your brand doesn’t offer it, they won’t think twice about going to your competitors.

According to statistics, nearly 89% of companies compete on the sole basis of customer experience. Although 80% of companies believe they deliver amazing customer experience, only 8% of customers agree.

That means that your brand has a tremendous opportunity to disrupt a competitor and obtain a competitive advantage by coming up with a creative and innovative service.

customer experience

How Can Brands Benefit from Product Visualization?

You Can Collect Data and Apply Intelligence

Product visualization can be a gateway to user behavior and analytics. It can offer valuable insights into user behaviors, including analytics about which parts of the product they click. You can collect that data and use it to build your product to perfection.

You Can Increase Your Conversion and Product Page Engagement

The products in IKEA’s catalogs and on their website are furniture 3D renderings, rather than real photos. More than 75% of these images are 3D product renderings, a decision the company made in 2005 to cut the costs associated with building and photographing every item. The result? Their sales managed to double!

Some statistics even show that there is a 27% average increase in conversion for 360° spin images and 3x improvements on product page engagement.

You Can Lower Your Costs

Product visualization offers a significant advantage over photography in terms of cost. As you don’t need to create a prototype first, the process is much simpler, quicker, and cheaper. The 3D model of a product is created digitally, which makes it a great deal less expensive than physical photo shoots.

You Can Easily Manipulate the Design

If you need to make any substantial changes to your product, you’ll have to reshoot. This can be pricey and push your timeline back by quite a bit. However, with product rendering, you can easily manipulate the design.

Need to switch the color? That is arrangeable. Wish there were more flowers in the background? No problem. What’s more, you can print a 3D model and have a physical prototype to show off.

You Can Showcase Endless Product Variations

With the help of product rendering, you can showcase an endless number of product variations. Your customers will be able to see all of the details of your product, colors, textures, and materials. Meaning, there’s no need to design different prototypes for each variation.

You Can Launch Your Product Faster

A 3D product rendering can be completed before a prototype is built. This allows your marketing team to run promotional campaigns for your new products even before they’re manufactured. Your brand will gain a competitive advantage over your competitors, which can be of immense benefit, especially if you’re entering a new market. Moreover, your company can gain insight into customer demand, avoiding unnecessary build-up of excess inventory.

3D product rendering Nike

4 Ways to Use Product Visualization to Drive Sales

Use product rendering to display product variations

Did you know that many customers leave an eCommerce website just because the photography didn’t nicely represent the product’s features? With product visualization for e-commerce, you can present a 360-degree product view and hopefully attract your visitors’ attention.

They should be able to spin and rotate the product, change the color and the material for a more personalized experience. This will help you build an emotional connection with your potential customers and increase their trust in your brand.

Bring your product to life with the help of augmented reality

Take Ikea as an example. Their customers can choose a 3D model of a product and place it in any location with a simple click of a button. By doing so, they can easily see how their space would look like without going to a physical store. You should follow in their footsteps and offer your potential buyers a similar shopping experience.

They should be able to zoom in and out, rotate and spin the digital model, and have full control of how the product would look like in the desired environment.

Use 3D animation to demonstrate your products better

What would you rather do, read an article that’s describing a product, or watch an animated video that shows you the product? If you chose the second option, you’re not alone. In fact, people are four times more likely to watch a video than read an article. Maybe that’s why nearly 93% of marketers incorporate video in their online marketing, sales, and communication strategy.

Using 3D animation to showcase your product is a sensational way to capture your potential buyers’ attention. You can portray your products with a fly-through, from all angles, and in close-ups to ensure a superior customer experience. Not only will visitors spend more time on your website, but you’ll ultimately convince them to make a purchase.

Use product visualization to show product details

With so many brands to choose from, customers can enjoy the freedom to make a choice. And most of the time, they go for the product that has the highest quality. If you want to convince your potential buyers that your product is top-notch, you need to show them the qualities that make the product highly functional.

In other words, simply showing the outside of an item from one angle won’t suffice. You need to use product visualization to:

  • show images that display an item cut in half
  • highlight every structural element of a product
  • show images of an item’s outer and inner look
  • showcase a product’s unique technology

This way, your customers can investigate the real product’s worth and make the right buying decision.

Final Word

Is there anyone who doesn’t want to see the look of their new Japanese garden before the decoration project has even started? Or see how their new sofa will fit in with the rest of their nicely furnished living room? Being able to see your garden or living room come to life can make the difference between making a purchase and changing your mind.

Product visualization is a tool for turning your products into a piece of art. It’s an engaging way to increase revenues and come out of the intensely competitive market as a winner. From jaw-dropping images, interactive 360 view and mesmerizing 3D animations, each of these types of product visualization will urge your visitors to click the “add to cart” button.