Chapter 6:
Creating Digital Product Showrooms

Digital product showrooms allow you to provide customers with a 3D preview of your products before buying them. This can help you circumvent supply-chain limitations and eliminate dependence on physical samples. Let’s take a look at what digital showrooms are, how they can be used and how to go about building one for your company’s needs

What Is a Digital Product Showroom?

Digital showrooms are 3D environments, often displayed through a web browser, that allow customers to view multiple 3D models, such as those in a new collection, without necessarily being present in a meeting room, showroom, or other physical space. Images may be organized into line sheets or collages. 

Digital showrooms can be experienced on smartphones, computer screens, or other devices. They can be experienced by customers at home, in offices, on mobile devices. Digital showrooms most commonly support B2B sales use cases, such as retail wholesale selling.

Digital showrooms offer businesses a number of outstanding benefits:

  • Letting customers preview before buying lets you sell even before you manufacture, reducing supply chain needs, with some companies saving as much as $83.1 million on manufacturing costs
  • Allowing customers to preview items in 3D can help bring products to market more quickly, reducing time to market to as little as 41 weeks
  • Digital showrooms cut down reliance on physical samples, enabling you to reduce your carbon footprint by as much as 61 kilograms annually
  • Customers can gain a better understanding of your product by getting a 3D perspective, helping you increase sales and reduce marketing costs

These benefits make digital product showrooms a great option for engaging customers with 3D technology.

Digital Showrooms vs. Virtual Showrooms vs. Mixed Reality Showrooms

While some people use the terms “digital showroom” and “virtual showroom” interchangeably, these terms also can be distinguished to refer to different types of 3D environments. Another closely related term is mixed reality showrooms. Understanding the differences between these technologies can help you decide which type to use for a specific application.

Virtual showrooms are digital environments that allow customers to simulate an in-store shopping experience. They use images or videos to allow shoppers to navigate a virtual shopping environment. Shoppers can see the showroom and items in it from different angles by zooming in or out, looking from side to side, looking up and down, virtually “walking” to a different location in the showroom or even “hovering” over the showroom from a bird’s-eye view. Virtual showrooms are most commonly interacted with using a VR headset.

Some virtual showrooms combine elements of VR and AR into what are called mixed reality showrooms. In a mixed reality showroom, shoppers can use VR or AR technology to interact with virtual or real objects. To take a simple example, a touchscreen might allow clothes shoppers to swap different outfits onscreen.
Both virtual and mixed reality showroom options are distinct from digital showrooms. Digital showrooms organize 3D images into line sheets or collages rather than environments that resemble the interior of a store. They don’t seek to replicate the in-store experience the way virtual showrooms do. Rather, they focus on experiencing products themselves from a 3D perspective.
Digital showrooms also don’t necessarily include the ability to interact with virtual or real objects the way mixed reality showrooms do. They deliver a 3D visual experience of objects rather than the experience of manipulating objects.

While these varieties of showroom environments differ, they are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to combine digital showrooms with features of virtual or mixed reality showrooms. Which option or combination of options is best for you depends on what type of 3D experience you need to deliver. Digital showrooms allow you to focus on letting customers visually browse 3D product selections, while virtual showrooms replicate the experience of walking around a store and mixed reality showrooms incorporate the tactile experience of manipulating objects. Use the sensory modality or modalities appropriate for your needs.

Types of Virtual Showrooms

Virtual showrooms have found a growing range of applications in a number of industries, including:

  • Virtual car showrooms: Shoppers can select vehicles to view, see vehicles from different angles, inspect interiors, try out different specs and conduct simulated test drives
  • Virtual furniture showrooms: Buyers can view furniture selections, see furniture from different angles, look at color options, see how furniture would look in their home and try out different styles for rooms
  • Virtual kitchen showrooms: Homeowners can preview kitchen makeovers by viewing options such as different styles, colors, paneling, counters, appliances and furniture
  • Virtual fashion showrooms: Shoppers can browse selections of clothes and accessories, view them from different angles, try different color options, preview how they’d look wearing different items and experiment with different style combinations

These are some of today’s most popular virtual showroom options. As VR and AR technology grow more popular, more applications will emerge and 3D showrooms will increasingly assume the role of physical showrooms. While they probably will not replace physical showrooms completely, a growing number of consumers will expect brands to offer a 3D showroom experience.

How to Build a Digital Showroom

Building a digital showroom for B2B sales involves a few key tasks:

  • Identifying which products you want to include in your showroom
  • Capturing images to be used for 3D modeling
  • Creating 3D models
  • Organizing your 3D content
  • Publishing your content
  • Integrating your content with other software used in your marketing and sales process
  • Sharing your content with customers

These steps can be completed using different types of image capturing technology and software tools. The VNTANA 3D digital showroom platform includes built-in AR features so customers can virtually place products within their own physical environment.