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What Jewelers Need To Know About Augmented Reality Tech

AR isn’t quite there yet, but there are other tools to allow for rich product visualization.

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FOR ONLINE SHOPPERS, it can be difficult to get a sense of size and weight of a piece of jewelry. But the bigger problem today is that it can be difficult to make an emotional connection with a piece of jewelry shoppers can’t examine up close. While it seems intuitively as though virtual try-on would help with this, the technology simply isn’t there yet.

Although there are some early versions of virtual try-on technology on the market today, this sales tool isn’t quite ready for mass adoption yet.

Let’s look at the top three challenges to selling jewelry online using today’s AR tools – and how you can improve your product visuals to ensure that you’re ready to deliver the try-on AR experience your customers expect when the technology does evolve.

The Problem of Visual Fidelity: Size, Scale, & Emotional Connection

Today’s tools don’t yet show an accurate representation of what the product will look like on the wearer’s body in real life.

Like the CAD drawings some jewelers still use to represent the basic structure of a custom engagement ring, these product configurations fail to deliver the experience customers expect, which is to:

a. Clearly show metal color, finish, and the effects of light.
b. Accurately communicate gem size, clarity, and weight.
c. Give customers the ability to zoom in on intricate details.

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The good news is that photorealistic product visuals do exist — as anyone who has bought furniture off the internet the past couple years knows — and they’re increasingly high quality. With 3D product configurations, customers can preview their custom design under different lights, with different finishes, and to their exact specifications.

While this can be helpful for large-scale showroom purchases, these visual tools are just starting to be applied to the jewelry industry, and a preview of the CAD files still marks the upper limit for that customer experience in many stores today, online and in person.

A High Bar: Display Custom Designs in Real Time

Most of today’s try-on AR tools make it difficult to generate a custom design and a photorealistic preview in real time.

And that’s what customers want: to see their custom designs as they’re dreaming them up. Shoppers designing unique pieces want to be able to see their jewelry with their unique touches before they complete their purchase.

Especially now that many shoppers have been pushed online to complete their custom orders, it’s more important than ever that your 3D product configurator empower customers to design their own custom jewelry in real time.

How to Enable Customer Service and Up-Selling

Most brands, large or small, are pretty good at selling a piece of jewelry to a customer, but everyone struggles with upselling to capture higher lifetime customer value.

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To sell a design upgrade or additional features, your sales team needs to have the right product images to demonstrate that they don’t just know what you’re looking for — they can show you exactly what they’re describing.

In the near future, try-on AR will give shoppers the ability to review that custom wedding band that pairs with the engagement ring they bought six months ago or a complementary bracelet the next time the holidays come around. But we’re not there quite yet.

Try-On AR Is the Future, But the Tech Is Not There Yet

To access a try-on AR experience today, customers have to leave their jeweler’s website to download an app. From there, the app experience relies on WebGL, which means that the photorealistic qualities you can deliver through 3D product visuals on your website are lost in the try-on experience.

That disconnect can cause a huge drop-off in conversion: it just doesn’t deliver the visual fidelity customers have come to expect, and this failure to deliver can damage the trust you’ve worked so hard to build.

Someday, browser-based AR will support virtually trying on jewelry through Apple and their ARKit software and Google’s ARCore software, but until then, there are better solutions available to help increase your sales online and in the store.

John Kim is the senior vice president of sales at Threekit, a product visualization software platform that lets jewelers and their buyers customize metals, gems, and materials as well as do things like ring stacking. Threekit is used by the world’s top brands and jewelers to, sell more online, empower salespeople in-store, and to create a better brand experience. Prior to Threekit, John held leadership roles at Salesforce and Oracle. You can reach John at [email protected].

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