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Why size matters: 3D files in eCommerce.

This article will show the potential impact on loading speed of file sizes of 3D product representations on a given online shop. Furthermore, we will take a look at tactics to alleviate this potential problem.

Jan Stephan
Jan Stephan
Co-Founder of VRxs

Main factors considering loading times

First of all, let us take a look at the basics. There are three main factors that have an impact when considering loading times and bounce rates:

  • The overall data heaviness of an online shop: Recent data from Google for german online shops indicates 2 MB as the average data customers must load before experiencing the shop. Let’s imagine a customer visiting a shop via a mobile and having a 3G connection available. It would take already a solid 4 seconds to see the online shop. 4 seconds is a long time when competing for the time of potential customers, especially when you factor in countless apps, other web shops, messengers and social media screaming for attention.
  • Available Bandwidth: The usual online shop has a relatively even split between customers visiting via mobile browsers and desktop browsers. Some shops even report to have more customers buying via their mobile. That leads to the second factor with impact: While available bandwidth does not play a huge role for customers visiting the online shops via their desktop browsers, customers visiting via mobile may experience problems loading online shops fast enough. In Germany, where download rates are subpar anyways compared to most developed nations, this puts online shop owners in a tough spot. Keep in mind the average mobile download rate in Germany is below 4.9 megabit per second according to "DW” (2018).
  • Customers patience: Getting back to point one. If your shop takes substantially longer to load than the above mentioned 4 seconds you probably already lost your customer. While that is already really annoying, a study from Google really drives home the point of customers being impatient (2017): The probability that a customer bounces is at 32% when the loading takes longer than three seconds. The numbers for loading longer than five seconds are substantially worse and I promise you don’t really want to know them.

3 short facts about loading times

Avg. German mobile download speed is
Avg. German Onlineshop loads
The bounce rate at 5 seconds loading time
is up to 90%

Loading times, file size and 3D models

As you can see loading times clearly play a major role in getting and retaining customers for the average online shop. To make matters worse 3D product displays have the reputation to bring a (data-) heaviness with them comparable to a full-grown elephant. Understandably web shop owners rather use product images or -if they really want to show off their product- videos.

In general, the reputation of data-heaviness is not wrong, when it comes to 3D product files but there are three main ways to alleviate the problem:

  • Decrease size by compression: Readily available compression methods allow to decrease file sizes by as much as 75%. Furthermore, even small files with for example 12 MB can be decreased to a size of merely 2,8 MB. This is comparable to an image with a really high resolution, which you would get from a professional photographer. Of course, 3D files cannot be compared to images used in web shops, but rather to videos used to present products. When comparing videos and 3D representation of products you will find 3D product representations to be much smaller. An average two-minute product video can easily amount to 8 – 12 MB while a 3D representation with decent quality roughly needs 5 MB.
  • Decrease size manually: A second way to decrease the size substantially is of course to let a professional 3D artist rework it. Although this way is very time consuming the decrease possible is amazing. For example, a reduction from a 100 MB to 5 MB file for a backpack was possible and the backpack still looked like the real thing.
  • Increase loading with the right infrastructure: With the help of CDNs, the right compression and file formats you can save your potential customers a lot of waiting time and bandwidth. Without getting to much into the technological side the way in which online shops implement and distribute 3D product representations can make a huge difference. One of the most promising ways of course is to use third-party infrastructure to distribute the representations via all your digital channels. First of all, third-party infrastructure is made for exactly this use case and none other. Secondly, they will likely have protocols and know-how to implement the factors named in point one and two to help you distribute the 3D representations to your customers as quickly as possible.
  • File compression can save up to 75%

  • Experts can manually decrease file size by as much as 20 times

  • The right infrastructure increases loading speed substantially

Wrapping it up

Loading times do play a massive role when it comes to online retail. When implementing 3D product representations the wrong way the loading time can increase substantially resulting in bouncing customers and an overall drop in sales. When implementing 3D files through a third-party provider via IFrame or API and combine it with the know-how to decrease file sizes the right way the problem becomes a non-issue. To the contrary online shops profit from increased interaction and all the benefits that come with showing of product in 3D, namely increased conversion and decreased rates of return.

Lastly politicians and big tech alike promised us 5G in the foreseeable future. Let’s see how that plays out. If 5G was indeed broadly available loading times for web shops would not be a big deal anyways.

In the meantime, do not worry. For the above-mentioned reason your customers will return and spend even more time on your shop and increase buying if you implement 3D product visualisations via a third-party provider. As usual if you have any questions regarding this topic feel free to reach out via PM, mail or in the comments.

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Jan Stephan
Jan Stephan
Co-Founder of VRxs

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