3D technologies are increasingly popular in online shopping because they give consumers a better understanding of products. This in turn has proven to increase sales and reduce returns. Retailers are working overtime to develop successful 3D pipelines to implement 3D quickly. This includes optimization tools that make 3D models perform better in Augmented Reality (AR) platforms and 3D web viewers.
In order to create a winning 3D strategy, brands of all sizes must first understand what 3D optimization is and why it’s needed.
What is 3D optimization?
Simply put, 3D optimization is the process of reducing the file size of 3D models. The size of 3D models comes from two places: geometry and textures. Geometry refers to the actual mesh or structure of the 3D model which is made up of polygons. Textures are simply the images used to skin the 3D model.
Optimizing a 3D model consists of two parts: mesh decimation and texture compression.
The mesh decimation portion of 3D optimization removes or combines polygons to reduce the overall polygon count. This reduces the overall file size and requires less GPU to render.
Texture optimization has two parts. First, textures are resized to adjust the image’s dimensions based on the amount of space they occupy. Often times, textures are much large than they need to be.
For example, say you need to add a small logo on a 3D jacket. Your original image has a texture that is 2048 x 2048. However, you only need it to be 512 x 512 to look great on your 3D jacket. Using the larger image would not only be extra resolution wasted, but it also would result in a slower load time.
The second part of texture optimization is texture compression. One example of how texture compression reduces files sizes is by grouping similar colors together to use fewer colors overall. While the visual fidelity may be lowered through texture compression, it is important to note that the aggression level is adjustable. The level of texture compression that is acceptable may vary from image to image.
End Use Case Determines Optimization Requirements
When optimizing 3D models for e-commerce or advertising, it’s important to consider the end use case. For example, if you are advertising in 3D on Instagram or Snapchat, the size of the 3D model on the viewer’s mobile screen is actually relatively small. This means that you can compress the textures more without the viewer being able to notice a difference in quality. You can think of this the same way you would when you compress a photo. If you are just going to view the photo on your phone or computer, then you can compress it significantly without noticing a difference in quality. However, if you were to put that same photo on a large TV or billboard it would appear pixelated.
Typically, the optimization of 3D models is currently handled by 3D artists or designers working in 3D design programs. This work can not only be time consuming and costly, but it also can be difficult to scale. It also may need to be done differently for each platform you plan to distribute your 3D model. Luckily, VNTANA offers automated 3D optimization to help artists and designers quickly and more easily bring these 3D models to life.
Why does 3D optimization matter?
Optimization of 3D models is crucial to AR and web-based 3D experiences. Without small optimized 3D models, AR wouldn’t exist because mobile phones and AR headsets can’t handle large files. And, since AR helps consumers better understand a product, having compelling imagery that is properly optimized is a must for selling products online.
It also matters because in e-commerce, load times of images are everything. Every millisecond wasted for an image or 3D model to load can mean millions of dollars in lost revenue, according to Shopify.
Optimization becomes increasingly more important when you figure in mobile, which is generally slower than WIFI. Mobile is projected to make up 54 percent of total e-commerce sales by 2021.
Retailers can’t risk the wait of slow-loading images—much less 3D models—when customers don’t have the patience.
The impact of 3D optimization on e-commerce
The global pandemic has made 3D and AR even more important to implement as consumers continue to shop online versus in-person. Below are just a few statistics that show the astonishing impact AR has had for brands looking to give customer’s better user experiences:
- 71% of consumers say they would shop more often if they used AR because AR enables confident buying decisions. This intern means increased satisfaction and strong customer loyalty.
- 83.1 million consumers in the U.S. are already actively using AR monthly in 2020. This accounts for 25% of the population and shows it’s an opportunistic time to capitalize on the growing AR user base for both marketing and point of sale product engagement.
- 61% of consumers say they prefer retailers who offer AR experiences because it helps them ensure the purchase will fit their needs.
- 40% of consumers say they would pay more for a product that they could customize in AR. This means higher margins on existing spend and a higher quality, hands-on experience for online shoppers.
- 40% higher conversion rates result from 3d and AR shopping. It gives the customer the confidence to buy, increases their post-purchase satisfaction, and reduces the rate of returns.
With numbers like these, brands serious about stepping up their e-commerce game can no longer ignore the impact of AR and the optimization of 3D on a customer’s experience.
There’s never been a better time for retailers to take a hard look at incorporating of 3D into their content plans to give customer’s better user experiences.
The statistics show there’s strong interest among consumers for incorporating 3D models into retailers’ offerings. In fact, many of the retailers who have already started to include AR technologies into their e-commerce strategies have increased revenue. For those who have been avoiding the use of AR in e-commerce, now may be time to reconsider. When you start to plan your 3D strategy, make sure your 3D models are optimized for optimal performance.
With proper optimization, brands may not only surpass their competitors, but also reach their target audience in a better, less expensive way.