Rethink Experience

WebGL Is Leveling Up E-Commerce With 3D

By Gwenever Pacifico / October 27, 2020
3 min read

Advances in technology are continuously reshaping the online shopping experience. Being able to view products in 3D used to be limited to large, multi-million dollar companies that had the resources to invest in innovative experiences to draw in customers. But then came WebGL.

With its ability to render interactive 3D objects entirely within a web browser, this JavaScript API is vital for businesses that want to create a differentiated, interactive e-commerce experience. Unlike 360-degree image views, which are an array of images stitched together, WebGL’s 3D objects let users interact with products dynamically, positioning the camera in real-time.

Potential customers can rotate a handbag or change the color of a car they’re thinking of buying with a simple stroke of a touchscreen. Since everything is done within the browser, nothing special needs to be downloaded, making for an easy and seamless customer experience (CX).


Enhancing the Shopping Experience

According to data collection company Statista, American shoppers spent $365.2 billion dollars on online retail sales of physical goods in 2019. By 2024, online retail sales are projected to reach $600 billion. With so much profit on the line, businesses need to make sure that the online shopping experience they’re providing is as useful as the ones shoppers get inside a brick-and-mortar store. This includes providing customers not only with detailed product descriptions, but interactive product views.

Verge3D, a real-time renderer and toolkit for creating 3D experiences on websites, uses WebGL to do just that. By featuring a full 3D view and zoom function, online shoppers can scrutinize a product from all angles and sides to inform their purchase decision.

This ability to examine a product before buying becomes even more necessary when purchasing something as expensive as an automobile. Car buyers need to have as much information as possible about a vehicle’s exterior, interior and available options. A website utilizing WebGL technology can provide shoppers with an interactive 3D configurator that lets them conveniently click on car parts and color palettes to customize their dream ride.

A 2019 Car Buyer Journey Study by Cox Automotive shows that the majority of the automotive industry’s potential customers make their initial buying choices online. By the time car shoppers go to a dealership, they’re ready to make a purchase. Because of this, dealers need a way to entice buyers on their website.



Color plays a significant factor in the purchase decision. As WebGL makes advances in implementing complex shading, online car buyers can choose from realistic depictions of car paint options. Those interested in a Volkswagen can use the VW Polo configurator to test out which colors they like best on the vehicle.

Meanwhile, the BMW 7 series configurator uses WebGL technology to give potential customers the chance to not only see the cars with different paint options from any angle, but to also choose the wheels and interior colors, viewing their customizations in real-time.

Furniture is another big commitment purchase. Target has a feature on its site called “See It In Your Space” that allows online shoppers to use their phone camera to see how the furniture they’re considering buying will look in their home. The feature uses WebGL to render the interactive graphics in the customer’s browser, allowing shoppers to move, scale and rotate the home decor. A Target spokesperson explained to TechCrunch, a tech online publisher, that “guests can easily snap pictures using their phone, they don’t have to use any additional hardware or apps. We just felt like it was a really straightforward experience.”

This straightforward experience enhances CX. If a company is planning to launch an online store, WebGL can help them stand out from the crowd of digital marketplaces on the internet. 3D technology is the next evolution of the digital user experience.




Codazen Solutions: WebGL in Action

With 63% of shopping occasions beginning online, it’s crucial for brands to have a strong digital presence. No matter where customers are making their purchase—online or in a brick-and-mortar store—their customer journey is starting in front of a screen. By improving the CX from the very first step, businesses have a higher chance of getting customers to buy their products. An e-commerce website featuring a 3D experience could give online retailers the competitive edge they need.

Codazen works closely with companies to improve CX using WebGL. Josh Grieve, Sr. UX Product Designer, explains how WebGL has enabled our team to create immersive web experiences by leveraging client-side hardware to render 3D visual effects in the browser:

We have the ability to create elaborate immersive experiences with a relatively low load time. Imagine being able to place a couch in your living room without downloading an app to see it. Downloading an app is a hurdle for the consumer. We want to remove as much friction as possible to make it easier for the user. If they can see that the couch fits and looks good in their space, that helps them feel confident in the purchase.

Creating these visual experiences is a partnership between UX and engineering. Elton Dan, Associate Full-Stack Engineer, thinks “overall WebGL is a really great tool, but for people who are new to working with 3D spaces and such, understanding the concept can be a bit challenging.” Our team keeps up with the ongoing updates to the JavaScript API’s libraries and can use existing platforms to build 3D experiences.

In our R&D division, Codazen Labs, our designers and engineers know how to leverage WebGL and other 3D capabilities. Contact us to learn how 3D can propel your digital transformation, deliver higher revenue streams and create better brand experience.

How can we elevate your brand experience?

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