For the debut of our new website today, we’ve coined a new company tagline: “Virtual Product Experiences for Business.”

It encapsulates what we do: empower companies to give their customers an unparalleled rich and immersive visual interaction with products online to boost e-commerce sales.

To us it’s intuitive that the better consumers can inspect and interact with a product virtually, the more likely they are to buy it. Vividly seeing a product from whatever angle customers choose is inarguably a superior experience to viewing static 2D pictures. But what about the influence on purchases?

Now comes an answer, courtesy of academia.

A recent study examined the effects of rich media on consumer purchase intentions and willingness to pay in online stores. The study tested the effects of two rich media presentation formats, product videos and what the authors called VPE—Virtual Product Experience—versus static 2D displays.

VPE was defined as a “psychological state that consumers enter into while interacting with a 3D model of a product in a computer-mediated environment,” which can “simulate many of the same experiences as in a traditional store and trigger more active cognitive and affective activities than 2D marketing tools.”

The researchers, Ting Li and Zornitsa Meshkova of the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, set up three experimental online stores. Each had one of the three media formats—static, video, and VPE, and each had a select group of test shoppers. Footwear and a camera were featured.

Video and VPE enhanced the “feeling of informedness” about products. Only VPE increased excitement about the shopping experience and directly and significantly increased purchase intention.

Willingness to pay, while not statistically significant, was also the highest while the test shoppers made and controlled 360-degree product examinations, more so among women.

The researchers recommend more research on willingness to pay. We recommend they let test shoppers use our demo.