September 1, 2020

Playable Commerce: What is it and why do brands need it?

“A picture says a thousand words”. But how about a moving picture?

Ecommerce is entering a new stage of development. One where all static images will become moving images. What we call playable images, for playable commerce.

One of the first big trends for brand websites back in the late 90’s was car sites where the user could change the colour of the car. Then spin it around 360 to see all the angles. Pretty much every car website had this feature. It cost about £50K. That was deemed good ROI on a car.

Fast forward and that functionality is now much simpler and cost effective to scale. It now makes sense financially to use what was once reserved for cars on anything from a can of beer to a cushion.

All those static eCommerce shots you see on a white background can - and will - be playable in the not too distant future. Why? Well partly just because they can be, but mostly because we know it increases purchasing likelihood.

How does this work?

At VM+ instead of taking a typical photo of the product we make a digital double. We do this through various different scanning techniques. We have even made our own scanners from scratch for more technically challenging images like the texture of fabric.

We know there is no point in the image moving if it doesn’t look real and inviting. Our job is to help our clients sell products, not just create innovative technology for the sake of it.

Over the last ten years we have amassed unrivalled levels of experience in this field. We have an asset library of over 50,000 images that we have rendered from scratch. Our stylists are equally as important as our 3D artists. We know that it takes a team to get things just right. But we also know where to find efficiencies and use magic to create captivating playable images at scale and on budget.

The advantages of a playbale images over a static are myriad. Take a cushion. We can obviously change the size and colour, but we can also alter texture and volume. More fluffy? No worries. Customers can flip the cushion, see what it looks like in a room context or next to other cushions. The versatility of these digital doubles mean they are the next best thing to actually holding the cushion in your own arms.

And actually with the strides we are making with AR and VR that feeling is not too far behind either.

The business advantages are clear too. Playable eCommerce images typical see 2x conversion rates, a 40% reduction in returns (the more you can explore the less surprises you have later) and a significantly higher dwell time. With AR specifically, we see an average dwell time of 85 seconds compared to 37. It’s simply more fun to play with stuff than just look at it.

One great render works incredibly hard. In many cases there is no need for multiple shots or angles if you can spin or change the master image. So although the initial set up of that image is more expensive than one traditional photo, when you factor in the multiple ways the image can be used and scaled, plus the removal of financial - and environmental - costs of physical shoots, brands that require large volumes of images are investing in this technology.

Let's Talk

If you would like to know more about how we're helping leading brands embrace the next wave of eCommerce creativity please email or call (0)161 211 5421.