Benefits of virtual photography in the shoe industry

What is virtual photography?

3D rendering's detail on a Berluti shoe realized by SmartPixels
3D rendering's detail on a Berluti shoe realized by SmartPixels

Virtual photography (or 3D product imaging) is the process of creating images that represent real-world items, but that is created using technology that combines static graphics and 3D models. The result is a photorealistic digital twin of a physical product, but the main difference consists in the fact that users can directly engage with this 3D rendering.


With e-commerce’s exponential growth showing no signs of abating, high-quality digital product representation is critical to soaring sales and lowering return rates. To illustrate, brands that switched from traditional product photography to 3D renders saw a 40% increase in conversion rate and a 30% increase in sales on average.


Virtual photography does not only allow you to scale product visuals, but it also allows your clients to tailor products in real time. In fact, with 3D visuals, the user is empowered to zoom in and out of the product, rotate it, view different angles, and change colours and materials combinations. Virtual photography assists clients to preview photorealistic versions of a finished product before making a purchase decision.


Create all the product images you need with SmartPixels’ virtual photographer: images or videos of any product variation from any angle and in any setting. It will drastically benefit your brand in terms of visual appeal on product pages and image availability.

Why should you implement virtual photography?

3D real-time product configurator for a FURLA bag 

These days, e-commerce users are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of visual expectations on product pages. To illustrate, compared to 2016, when only 3 images are expected for each product, today this value rose up to 8.


There is a wide number of statistics that confirm the claim that photorealistic virtual photos have a large, positive impact on the e-commerce business.

As a direct consequence of the increasing augmentation of online sales, shoppers are relying more and more on visuals when making a purchase. To illustrate, for approximately 90% of online shoppers, photo quality is one of the most important elements when making an online transaction [1].


Here comes the use of 3D technology. In fact, by substituting static visuals with 3D renderings, consumers’ confidence will sharply increase. Thanks to interactive 3D visuals, users have the ability to look into the features that are most important to them.


22% of online buyers, return items due to the divergence between how the product looks like online and in real-life [2]. 3D images have the potential to reduce returns and buyer’s remorse. With virtual photography, shoppers can have the brightest idea of what they will receive. Customers can see details of a product in a more accurate representation than images or videos can do alone.

Virtual photography: the case of the shoe industry

Virtual photography: the case of the shoe industry

One of the main benefits of virtual photography is the fact that it allows showcasing, smoothly, all the product variants. If you sell multiple versions of a product (for example, different colorways), you must bring one of each to a traditional photo shoot.


Let’s take the example of a pair of shoes. Each pair of shoes can be highly customizable, in terms of model, material, colour, and pattern.


For example, when a client seeks to buy a Berluti shoe, he or she is confronted with a wide range of customization possibilities, in terms of shape, colours, and materials (leather, crocodile…).


Virtual photography consists of integrating an ultra-realistic 3D visual on your website. SmartPixels’ team will first digitize your products in 3D and then integrate them into a one-of-a-kind customer experience, such as 3D configurators for your made-to-order offer.


Virtual photography, whether a leather shoe or a sneaker, you can offer your customers the chance to highly personalize their items. By integrating a 3D product configurator, your brand can add uniqueness to its shoe collections by enhancing the characteristics of each pattern.

A virtual photography experience for Church’s

3D real-time web product configurator realized by SmartPixels for Church’s

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of their most iconic shoe, Church’s invited customers to design their own Consul. Therefore, the brand asked SmartPixels to create a 3D personalization experience. Due to the wide variety of product variants (five leather types in twenty-six colours, four sole types, three average fits, and three lining types), they relied on virtual photography.


The main challenge that the brand had to face was the wide range of product combinations it provides within its personalization offer. To illustrate, over 100. 000 different options are available in Church’s customization offer.


Within this scenario, traditional photography and static images did not appear to be feasible solutions. In fact, the only thing a sales associate could do was stimulate the consumer’s imagination while showing them some swatches and samples of how the Consul would look, for example, in blue crocodiles with dark brown lining and black insole.


The brand was extremely aware of the power of 3D visualization to enhance the customer’s experience with the product. In fact, real-time 3D product visualization has proven to be an extremely useful conversion-boosting tool.


Thanks to virtual photography and the implementation of a 3D web configurator, Church’s clients were able to see, interact, and explore the brand’s countless product variations.

SmartPixels can provide an appealing and seamless consumer journey through 3D configurator, driving sales and client loyalty


[1] https://www.meero.com/en/news/e_commerce/511/1900-how-great-product-photographs-influence-e-commerce-websites-conversions-en

[2] https://yen-pedrajas.medium.com/5-significant-facts-how-product-photography-can-impact-your-ecommerce-b51a99a34669