Retail _ Sayduck - 3D and AR are the natural order

Jon manages business development at VRWorldTech. To discuss a story idea, drop him a line at jonsavage@vrworldtech.com

Current 3D and AR technology is naturally becoming a part of everyday life, says Niklas Slotte, CEO of Finnish AR company Sayduck

Quick read

➨ Finnish AR company Sayduck joined Nordic XR company Bublar Group through acquisition last year
➨ The 3D representation of the RPT-01 headphones are the result of one of its latest partnerships, with Sweden-based Zound Industries, the maker of the adidas range of headphones
➨ The Finnish AR company has just launched the new Sayduck 3D Configurator on its platform

The story

You visit www.adidasheadphones.com because you are on the hunt for a new set of headphones that you can wear while working, relaxing or exercising. Scroll down and witness two models wearing the latest range. Here, like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of your youth (if you are a certain age), you can click left or right. Go left, because you prefer over-ear to in-ear, and land on the product page for the RPT-01 headphones.

There is nothing amiss on this product page. Initial preamble, customer reviews, price, basic information and that ever-present signal of buying intention, the ‘Add to Cart’ button. Present too is the image gallery, until now the key online sales material for any product traditionally sold in a physical store.

The model you saw earlier, clearly in smart-casual wear rather than gym gear, underlining the preamble’s explanation that the RPT-01 headphones can be worn at work, on your commute and while at the gym, leaving your life—to your preferred soundtrack—“uninterrupted”. Style and comfort are not your only concerns, however. Audio quality and performance are important too, so you scroll down further and discover specifications to interrogate.

This is all standard for an online shopping journey, with each stage designed to showcase a particular feature, be it style or quality. What’s been missing in the past is a sense of the extra dimension. Anyone interested in a high-spec consumer electronics has likely held a similar product in their hands before, so they have the memory of what a set of headphones feels like.

The image gallery mentioned above provides ingredients for your imagination, allowing you to supplant the model in your mind and imagine what they would like on you. But you cannot turn them upside down and around. You cannot see them from more than one angle. They are static and a little less appealing because of it.

Scroll down just once more and you will find an interactive 3D representation of the RPT-01 headphones. It’s naturally set on the page just like the images above it, like it has always been there. You play around with the 3D asset and view the headphones from as many angles as you like. The 2D problem then was never a problem at all. You admire, count their cost in your head, and either add to cart or flee, potentially to return later if all elements have done their jobs.

“Current 3D and AR technology offers engaging and powerful means of visualisation, and it’s constantly becoming easier to use and therefore naturally becoming a part of everyday life,” says Niklas Slotte, chief executive officer of Finnish AR company Sayduck, on the ubiquity of these immersive technologies in online retail.

Niklas Slotte, chief executive officer of Finnish AR company Sayduck
Niklas Slotte, CEO of Sayduck

The clearest and biggest advantage to online retailers and brands, and why 3D and AR representations are becoming so prevalent in this sector in particular, is increasing engagement and driving conversion to sales, Slotte says.

Sayduck, whose product visualisation platform produces 3D assets for deployment online and in the real world via AR, has “hundreds of customers”, across furniture, lighting, tableware, wall art, outdoor equipment and electronics, all of which have a “shared need of being able to better showcase and present their products online”.

Sayduck, which joined Nordic XR company Bublar Group through acquisition last year, has worked with Shopify since 2018, with its 3D and AR modelling services marketed towards the ecommerce platform’s 800,000-strong client base. The 3D representation of the RPT-01 headphones are the result of one of its latest partnerships, with Sweden-based Zound Industries, the maker of the adidas range of headphones.

Zound’s aim for 3D and AR was to “help their customers to purchase products online”, Slotte says. “Fit and form factors are important aspects of audio products nowadays and with 3D, a customer can understand products better before buying them online.”

He continues: “We are excited to develop the relationship further with Zound and I believe VTOs (virtual try-ons via AR) is a natural next step in the headphones industry.”

There are plenty of other advantages to 3D and AR for online retail, Slotte says. “Moving to 3D also allows companies to reduce costs, for example, product photography, as visualising product variants is very efficient when working with 3D on our platform.”

“As ecommerce companies are seeing that 3D and AR provide a competitive edge, the market is predicted to see exponential growth during the next couple of years. We are making sure that we will be part of this growth journey and we are looking forward to the ride.”

To aid this journey, Sayduck is putting a lot of effort into measuring the effect of 3D and AR, which is carried out through A/B testing and measuring the effect on conversion. Slotte explains: “What we can say, and what we generally see, is that typically we see clear improvement in engagement metrics such as time spent on page, interaction and engagement.”

“Customers who are more likely to buy are also more likely to try out the AR feature—but we don’t always necessarily see the opposite. This means that shopping journeys are relatively complex and 3D serves well early on in the journey.”

Niklas Slotte, CEO of Sayduck

He continues: “We also notice that customers who are more likely to buy are also more likely to try out the AR feature—but we don’t always necessarily see the opposite. This means that shopping journeys are relatively complex and 3D serves well early on in the journey when a customer tries to gain better understanding of a product.”

“AR, on the other hand, provides value in a later stage when consumers are making a ‘final validation’ of a product and perhaps are trying to make up their mind around colours and finishes for a specific product they already like.”

Despite differences between a 3D representation and an AR-enabled asset on customer effect, the development and display of both is becoming an easier process, making their adoption even wider.

Indeed, the range of tools available to develop AR assets, from Google’s ARCore to Apple’s ARKit, the latest version of which is doing exciting work with the new new LiDAR Scanner, and innovations from AR leaders such as Snap, are all pushing up expectations of how much this immersive technology will be worth in the years ahead. Whether or not those estimates will be proved correct remains to be seen, but it’s an age-old truth of any technology that the easier it becomes to develop, the fewer reasons there are to ignore it.

Slotte says: “3D and AR experiences are straightforward to create and typically the hurdle is the digitalisation of a product (the 3D creation) as this is still in many ways a manual task. That being said, there are interesting scanning solutions and technologies that will over time make the process of 3D creation easier.”

“For more complex products that allow configurability the setup requires a bit more work but the result is typically a system that visualises all possible options for a product—allowing typically thousands of possible combinations.”

“With the Sayduck platform, all of the possible combinations are immediately also available as an AR experience in browsers, again making it easy to design your personal product and seeing it in the right context. Sayduck was actually the first company in the world to launch this feature.”

Sayduck has also moved into virtual try-ons, through a partnership with bowtie brand Broni&Bo. Slotte says: “We are excited to be part of the development on the VTO side. Just recently we announced our partnership with Broni&Bo helping them virtually visualise bowties for potential customers.”

The Finnish AR company has just launched the new Sayduck 3D Configurator on its platform. This feature allows anyone with minimal 3D knowhow to succeed in building a product configurator. What’s more, it is the first configurator to directly support Apple’s AR Quick Look experience, allowing instant AR product try-ons for every possible product configuration.

Slotte says: “As physical interaction is currently very limited, in business and otherwise, brands and retailers are looking into stepping up their online retail game. Being able to present products online in detail and allowing consumers to make informed purchase decisions is essential.”

“3D and AR can help many consumers in terms of confidence and product validation. In particular, new and easy to use AR experiences like AR Quick Look have proven useful and promising.”

Main image: Sayduck’s product visualisation platform produces 3D assets for deployment online and in the real world via AR