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Bring experiences to life with AR and VR. Marc Uible, VP of Marketing and Alliances at Threekit, and Lindsey Scoggins, Founder and CEO of Lindsey Scoggins Studio, discuss how to create out of this world user experiences with the power of augmented and virtual reality.
Learn why digital innovation is trending in a post-COVID world, and how Lindsey Scoggins Studio is transforming their shoppers’ experiences through personalized products.
Taylor Stockwell: How do you define the difference between AR and VR?
Mark Uible: “Augmented reality is using a device that is placing objects inside of the space that you already see. So if you hold up your phone, you’re still seeing your office. Like you’re going to take a picture, but you’re now able to place things into that scene or things up here in that scene. The most notable is Pokemon GO, the video game. So if you’re trying to capture Pikachu, Pikachu shows up in your office and you can see Pikachu jumping around.
“Virtual reality is fully immersive, so you put on a headset, and that is a fully immersive scene where it might not have anything to do with the office that you’re sitting in. It could be you’re sitting in a forest. [AR is] slightly immersive versus fully immersive with virtual reality.“
TS: Lindsey, what did your experience look like before you saw Threekit, and what were some of the drivers for you to change and shift to reach that ideal that you had of creating those scalable one-on-one experiences?
Lindsey Scoggins: _“_I had seen other jewelers attempt to use this rendering application and kind of a ‘build your own’ application. Ecommerce 1.0 for the jewelry industry was pick this, pick that, we’ll put it together, we’ll assemble it for you and then we’ll ship it.
“I remember when I first started I would have former managers of mine that I would call on for just advice and things and they’re like, ‘How do you scale custom?’ I would say, ‘I’m not quite sure yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. But right now I have the luxury of a little bit of time to figure out what the scaling opportunity is.’ A lot of jewelry companies have done this ‘build your own’ in different ways.
_“My hesitation with doing the same thing was always that it felt like the tech was ahead of the actual merchandise. The tech was at the forefront of the experience. I make jewelry, I want people to feel like they’re actually immersed with the jewelry. I’m not just a cool rendering that doesn’t really look like the finished piece but it looks enough like it to get away with not having to make the inventory. T__here’s so many different ways to render a product but it was truly a serendipitous thing that I ran into a contact of mine who is at Threekit.” _
TS: What experience have you created on your site for your shoppers? What was created and what makes it unique and different?
LS: “I knew that I wanted to replicate as much as I could of the in-person experience as possible. What I do when clients come into my studio is I sketch with them and we talk about gemstones and diamonds and we source diamonds. Some things are technical and some things are more creative, but that’s the part that fascinates people and it should because it’s a very fun process.
“That kind of led me to develop what I call my signature designs, which end up being utilized very nicely in the virtual studio that we created with Threekit. I knew that I didn’t want just a mix and match type of thing. I wanted it to be very, very curated with unique pieces, but also the sketch process was so important to me, so we came up with this really beautiful kind of sketchpad effect as you’re designing your ring.”
MU: _“_It’s this idea of going through, and on the right hand side of the screen, it looks like a sketch of the ring. It really is modeling what Lindsey would be doing in the studio as you’re configuring various parts of the ring, whether that’s rose gold or gold or platinum. What type of stone? What type of shape? The setting? All of these things, and then be able to just seamlessly turn and examine the drawing and then it finally renders into a totally perfect drawing of what that ring would even look like. It does a nice job of showing what it would actually look like in the studio except now you actually get to see the full ring, not just a drawing of it.”
LS: “I’ll say it’s a little counterintuitive, or I guess maybe counter to the normal ecommerce experience. I want people to spend as much time as possible on that page. I don’t want them to just jump through it and immediately go to the shopping cart. I want them to really deliberate and create as much as they can.”
TS: How has that impacted shoppers as we’ve gone through this really big boom in ecommerce over the past year, year-and-a-half, and what’s it really done for you and your business?
LS: “It’s been very interesting. We launched December 1, which is such a crazy time of year in the first place. But what we’ve seen so far is that it’s definitely not the traditional ecommerce purchasing experience. Our clients get on the platform and then at this point instead of doing the traditional, ‘Let’s add to cart and let’s check out,’ because my price points are so high and it’s an emotional investment, we are getting contacted the regular way. They’ll email us; they’ll call us; they’ll come by the studio, and that’s where they are converting.
“It’s had this really nice effect of doing pretty much exactly what I wanted it to do. It’s bringing these beautiful rings to clients that I can’t see in New York, and it’s also allowing us to get to know our customers like we enjoy doing. It also had this really great halo effect which I wasn’t sure what to expect on our existing custom business with the one of a kind pieces. It’s going in a really nice direction this year. Especially coming out of the pandemic, but it’s had a halo effect on everything. Just having the website be more professional and have that kind of immersive experience with the virtual studio.”
TS: How would you help others navigate that perplexity in terms of understanding the value of creating a really truly innovative shopping experience for your business?
LS: “For me, I didn’t have a choice not to do it. Like I said, a small brand in New York. I’m in the middle of the Diamond District, so I’m competing with 1,000 other people right next door. So I didn’t have a choice not to find a way to bring my designs to a larger audience in the way that would be expected if they were to come into New York. And then add on top of that when I was first talking to Threekit, it was prior to the pandemic and so this was going to be a real expansion for me, and then when the pandemic happened, I thought, ‘Well I don’t have an ecommerce business and I can’t bring people into my studio anymore, so I need to build this. This is the time.’
“For anybody else I would really understand just what kind of experience you want to offer and make sure that aligns with the product that you sell. Jewelry is a very broad category. I still feel like I’m kind of in a void in the jewelry industry itself because there’s the luxury brands that haven’t quite gotten to this full ecommerce capability for many reasons, and then there are brands that have dedicated their whole business to ecommerce. I feel like I’m kind of in the middle of that, but yeah. For anybody else I would just try to just look at what’s the DNA of your business and how can you expand it.”
MU: “I’m a marketer and I ask my teams, ‘Hey. What’s the ROI on this activity?’ But I also know, having been on teams before that if you only look at ROI, if you’re saying, ‘Hey, you’re only going to be investing in AdWords.’ Over time, you become that…what is it? That frog in the boiling pot, right? So over time you keep turning up the temperature and the frog can jump out of that boiling pot but it doesn’t jump up if you turn up the temperature slow enough. I think everyone knows if you do not innovate, if you just sort of keep pressing the lowest, most clear ROI thing, you’re going to run into trouble.
“This visual world, it is early, but it’s showing high ROI for folks like Lindsey Scoggins or dozens of dozens of other brands. Platforms like Shopify, Facebook and Apple are investing heavily in it, and at the end of the day, you can get started for a pretty low cost.
“We encourage people to start. Start with one product. Experience it. You will see an ROI because people love this experience. Shoppers love to engage –– we’ve been talking about this whole time –– and then you can expand. We haven’t had a single customer in two years attrit because they’re saying, “This isn’t working.” So we haven’t lost a single customer saying, ‘Oh, the people just aren’t engaging, they don’t like it.'”