Tom Acland, CEO at 3DEXCITE, looks at how businesses can use technology such as AR/VR to transform the customer journey.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated digital trends, meaning that today’s manufacturer is continuously reinventing the customer journey. The idea of a sales funnel is being replaced with a continuous connection between brands and consumers. Product innovation is moving faster and marketing and sales must accelerate to keep up.
Seamless experiences between physical and virtual products is no longer science fiction but, a fact of life. As a consequence, consumers want an experience that is personalized and tailored at every interaction, reflecting their preferences every time they encounter a brand. This has fundamentality shifted the paradigm from browsing, purchasing, and sharing in digital media alone – to using, adopting, and upgrading the relationship between users and products every day.
This isn’t just about moving from one-size-fits-all messaging to personalized content, it’s also about individualized value. Competition is fierce, so how can brands get ahead? It’s not a product, it’s a process: ideation, development, launching, and learning – over, and over again. Gen Z is the watershed generation that will expect MORE than just faster, cheaper, better. Current and future generations’ idealistic expectations will revolve around sustainability, and social contribution. Design and deliver desirable experiences while catering to eco-aware consumers, even in an unpredictable environment.
Bringing products to life across the whole product lifecycle
In a noisy landscape, brands need to be memorable and inspire the imagination of their customers. Stagnant product promotions that fail to inform customers about the benefits of a product will struggle to cut through and gain attention. Brands need to start thinking outside of the box.
Technology unlocks interaction with a products to explore all the options available prior to electing to use them. Brands can instil a sense of ownership for customers before they make the decision to buy. Upselling and cross-selling are a continuous part of the engagement.
Authentic digital product representations put an entire product line at the customer’s fingertips. Through these true-to-life avatars, customers personalize the product as they imagine it, and advertise their enthusiasm as brand advocates.
Emerging 3D standards on the Net are taking this evangelism even further. They enable high-fidelity product content across online marketplaces like Amazon, Wayfair, and Shopify. Brands are creating interactive, 3D brochures to illustrate the value of products to consumers even within their own environments.
Going beyond with AR/VR
Augmented Reality (AR) has arrived in the mainstream during lockdown. With schools closed, my son brought exotic animals into the front room to learn about them as if they were there. My brother shopped for furniture even-though the shops were closed. Mixed realities are radically overhauling the shopping experience. Harnessing this for retail is a way to allow potential customers to experience a tangible interaction with products in different, exciting scenarios. Altogether, the lines between the virtual and real are evaporating, manufacturers should take the cue, adopt new approaches and futureproof.
By Tom Acland