One of the biggest marketing buzzwords in the last several years As brands and retailers evaluate the new balance of ecommerce and brick and mortar,, the discussions surrounding consumer behavior and the shifts seen over the last few years have largely concluded that even with a return to “normal”, brands need to be able to change their approaches to meet the consumer in their new environments. It does not stop there however, brands must deliver value across a wider variety of touch points that the consumer encounters on the journey.
What Does Omnichannel Marketing Mean?
The term “omnichannel” is not new to marketers, and has generally referred to brands being available and consistent across multiple channels, whether that be all digital or a mix of digital and brick and mortar. With the onset of COVID-19 and the requirement of brands to pivot to a mostly digital approach, we saw the perception of omnichannel shift.
Brands not built on a digital first or digitally integrated strategy prior to 2020 may view themselves as omnichannel now, since they are offering their products through digital channels. The truth is though, that being available on multiple channels is not the same as executing against an omnichannel strategy. Further, if there is disparity between the digital and brick and mortar experiences provided by brands, omnichannel can actually become a hindrance to a brand.
Availability across channels is a component of omnichannel retail and marketing, but it is not the core focus that makes an omnichannel strategy successful. Widen VP, Jake Athey, made the important observation that omnichannel “is less about where you sell and more about identity, consistency, and personalization.” Omnichannel strategies are most successful when brands are able to consistently deliver their brand across channels in a manner that is personalized to the buyer.
For many brands and retailers, that element of personalization is increasingly difficult to nail down as consumers become more private with their data and the ability to track across 3rd party channels diminishes. However, by delivering an exceptional experience, brands are able to drive deeper engagement with consumers and a relationship that encourages data sharing for a more tailored product recommendation.
Using 3D In Omnichannel Marketing
The most common application of 3D for marketers is 3D configurators, with an increasing number of brands also exploring augmented reality (AR). However, while these applications are significant value drivers for the customer experience, the opportunities to leverage 3D in an omnichannel strategy extend far beyond the point of purchase. Three of the largest areas of opportunity for 3D are consumer education, visual asset optimization, and brick & mortar experiences.
One of the greatest advantages of 3D configuration and visualization is the ability for consumers to explore and evaluate products in an immersive environment. Since humans are able to more easily process visual information, an interactive 3D experience provides the in-depth information and perspectives that consumers are looking for when searching for solutions, in a way that is easily digestible. From the brand perspective, 3D experiences increase the time spent with a product while also showcasing the features and benefits of their product as compared to the competition.
Brands looking to leverage 3D for consumer education may choose to deploy a 3D visualizer, product configurator, or augmented reality experience, each of which can be built to showcase specific features, key information, or complimentary products that help consumers find what they need.
Imagine shopping for a home gym set. There are countless options available on the market, and may look very similar when viewed online. If NordicTrack was to build a 3D experience on their site that allowed you to explore each system beyond the standard product photography, imagine how much more easily you could evaluate your choices. Interactive call outs added to features would explain how each area can be used and the muscles it targets. Additionally, information regarding the materials used in the build and requirements for maintenance and positioning within a room deliver much needed information that can be tedious to find on many sites or in store.
Visual Asset Optimization
Product imagery has never been as important to the customer journey as it is in today’s market. 63% of consumers have indicated that product imagery is as important if not more important than product details on a website, and when it comes to marketing across channels, standing out from the noise gets tougher every day.
For this reason, brands must be mindful of how their products are portrayed, and make great efforts to ensure that their brand identity is consistent and recognizable. However, product shoots are time consuming and expensive, generate limited views captured the day of the shoot, and with the great rotation of products and materials available by many brands, can be a large resource drain when constantly creating imagery to be deployed across channels. Using 3D configurators and product visualizers on the other hand, allow brands to create endless product imagery, videos, and experiences without the hassles or costs of reshooting products, or hours of photo editing. One 3D model can be used to create high quality imagery that accurately depicts every option and feature, that can then be deployed across marketing channels. If new options are added, or a seasonal color is available for a limited time, add a file to the model to capture assets instead of utilizing inventory for the needed creative.
Brick & Mortar Experiences
Particularly for digitally native brands, maintaining the identity that they have built online as they expand to physical storefronts or experiences is key for a success in omnichannel strategies. 3D experiences and augmented reality are valuable assets in a brick and mortar location not only for their interactivity, but also for the flexibility that they offer brands in terms of the size of their physical footprint, inventory needs, and the ability to deliver their full product offering.
Over the last several years we have seen many digital first brands enter partnerships for shops-in-shops, pop up experiences, and branded collaborations with major retailers. These on premise experiences bring the brand to the consumer in new and engaging ways, but often lack the features that have made the brand’s online experiences unique. By using 3D and AR, brands can bring those immersive elements off the small screen and into physical retail, delivering the consistent experience that consumers expect to see and additional value in the shopping journey by marrying the benefits of online and offline shopping.
What To Expect From 3D and Omnichannel
Salesforce’s State on the Consumer report for 2021 showed that 88% of consumers expect brands to accelerate digital initiatives . Online interactions in 2020 accounted for 60% of customer engagements, up from 42% in 2019, placing great emphasis on the need for improved digital touch points and the opportunities for brands to thrill consumers across the digital ecosystem. However, the increased focus on digital does not mean that brands can slack on in store experience or brand representation.
As expressed by Dopple’s own, Brant McLean, “Experience should no longer be viewed as digital versus brick and mortar - digital and physical should be linked to deliver a consistent brand experience and value across channels. Brands are focusing more now on the omnichannel strategy and experience, driven by the realization that the buying experience is just as important as the product to consumers.”
Withs brands looking to optimize each of these areas, 3D and augmented reality will be an increasingly leveraged tool for blending the best of online and offline. Whether this is in the form of optimizing in-store experiences with the infinite shelf powered by digital, or the use of 3D and AR as the creative brushes on the brand canvas across channels, we expect to see exponential growth in the use of visual tools in building exceptional branded experiences.