AR and VR for E-commerce: 3D Models in Google Search 8 AR and VR for E-commerce: 3D Models in Google Search 9 AR and VR for E-commerce: 3D Models in Google Search 10

3D & AR in Search Results for Ecommerce: Yea or Nay?

#AR/VR #Ecommerce

Google announced the support for 3D and augmented reality in Search about two years ago. Since then, the list of various living and non-living things (animals, anatomical structures, cultural objects and sites, etc.) that users can view in 3D/AR from every possible angle, has been extended. The way it works is simple and straightforward. Try searching for something on Google: 

  • If a 3D result is available, tap View in 3D;
  • To interact with the 3D asset in AR, tap View in your space;
  • Follow the on-screen instructions and enjoy the immersive experience.

This feature is available only on mobile devices (Android, iPhone, and iPad).

3D Models  example in Google AR in Search Results


Sounds fun, and if any object can be displayed in AR, can 3D Search View in Google be implemented for eCommerce products? 

Does 3D & Augmented Reality View Work for Product Pages?

Since the launch of 3D and AR Early Adopters Program, Google AR search is also available for eCommerce websites. People can view your content directly from SERP when looking for a specific product brand and model. If you add such a feature to your product cards, the chances that a customer would want to visit your particular website increase significantly. 3D product models in AR provide the level of realism a flat photo won't do, even if it’s of superb quality.

When users click on the View in 3D button, they can either interact with your three-dimensional virtual product or "place" it in their real-world environment with AR. At this point, they can either proceed to your website or return to results page.

Below is an example that illustrates the flow from when a user views a product in 3D/AR and visits the online shop:

A product in 3D/AR


3D Technology and Augmented Reality Revolutionise the Future of Ecommerce

According to Deloitte, the number of AR compatible smartphones and tablets reached more than 1 billion. And within the next year, 100 million buyers are expected to use AR while shopping. So the future where your prospects select a product and interactively change the style, colour, and dimensions of whatever they are looking for, is nearer than you think. 3D Search View for eCommerce sites can have an impact on how you engage with your prospects on Google in the coming years:

  • As a new way to educate the audience about your brand: a good or bad impression of your company is decisive for their willingness to buy from you;
  • Users with AR-enabled smartphones can get a full 360° view of your products, play with 3D models, rotate, and scale. Enjoying an immersive experience has the potential to turn those views into sales by evoking emotional feelings. Once the user displays an object in AR, the next action could be to visit the page and buy the product;
  • Augmented shopping provides a new opportunity for customers to interact with products in a unique way. The more customisable, the more valuable the interactive experience becomes to build trust for a brand.

Today, the most successful AR experiences can be delivered for retailers who have highly standardised product sets with high opportunity to customise and configure the models for each prospect. For example, positive ROI and spreading adoption of 3D/AR are already present among the automotive and furniture brands.

AR opportunities for business


Current Limitations of 3D and AR in SERP

Despite its promising benefits, the possibilities of 3D commerce in Search view are not yet available to everyone, and there are several things to consider when deciding whether or not to adopt it on your website:

  • 3D objects are only available from the mobile search page on Google;
  • A structured data 3DModel is needed for 3D objects to appear in the search results;
  • Supported formats for the 3D assets are limited to gITF, USDZ (for Safari). Google recommends providing at least one gITF file to be able to display 3D in the SERP (other formats need to be converted to gITF or USDZ to render on mobile devices);
  • 3D SERP feature is currently restricted to a limited number of organisations (Early Adopters Program);
  • Google classifies augmented reality search as an advanced SEO method, however, 3D and AR images are not a ranking factor. Google's main purpose is to enhance user experience and provide people with the contents they want, and people like visuals more than text to discover new information. John Muller, Google's product manager, confirmed in a tweet that Google doesn't rank these pages higher because of 3D image support;
  • Even though it is not a ranking factor, you might be able to derive a higher CTR and conversion. It's better to start using other SEO tactics to rank well. We know how to help you with SEO optimisation — contact us to discuss possible options.

Final Thoughts

AR & VR top the list of trends for 2021. Even if you don't do 3D previews for search results, you can still use AR on product cards, with the ability to view products in augmented reality. We wrote about the many opportunities for using AR and WebAR here, and our team is actively engaged in the development and implementation of augmented reality in our clients' projects.

"If you zoom out a little bit, this is visual computing, and it's all driven by 3D content, which will show up in multiple different ways. It's going to take a few years, but we will get to the point where you cannot merchandise a product without it."

—Shrenik Sadalgi, Director of R&D at Wayfair Next, Chair at 3D Commerce Working Group (Khronos Group)

Think about the future of augmented shopping. In a few years, AR product visualisation and personalisation will no longer be a wow factor and a novelty feature to amaze people. It’s quickly becoming an industry standard — as it is the case in the home goods and furniture segment:

“This is where the future is going, and in three years, if you don’t have AR in furniture, you’re going to be looked at as old-school. We’re not waiting. We want to be ahead of all that.”

—VP of digital marketing and omnichannel experience, furniture retailer

Don't be afraid to experiment. The trends clearly show that both the industry and consumers adopt 3D technology. Learn from the industry pioneers how to become niche leaders, and our team will help you in this endeavour — kindly write to us.

The images used in this article are taken from open sources and are used as illustrations.
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