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      The Future of Online Shopping

      Online shopping continues to trend upwards, with an estimated 1.92 billion people making a purchase on the web in 2019, according to Statistica. Good news for consumers is that this increase will result in online retailers releasing new features on their sites, with the goal of making the online shopping experience as similar to in-person as possible. So, what specifically should you expect to start seeing through 2021 and beyond?

       

      Product Material & Color Samples

      From left to right: Starfire Glass samples, Starfire Designs' Mill samples, Starfire Designs metal samples.

      Showrooms are known for their large swatches of fabrics and books of samples, because so much of what they offer is completely customizable and made-to-order. In fact, there are too many options to show on their floor, so small samples are generally available for customers to browse through. Think of Lowes, Home Depot, or your local paint shop—they have a full wall of color swatches for their paints, and they offer sample containers for a small fee. Following this same concept, more online retailers are likely to begin offering material samples and color swatches, especially for high value items. Shipped to either your home or business, samples will allow you to physically feel the texture of the product you’re looking to purchase, while also confirming the accurate color of the item and how it will appear within your space.

      We’ve happily offered free Starfire Glass samples on our site for years, and also provide samples for our Copper Canyon, Copper Moreno, Steel Mill, and Stainless Steel Edge fire pit lines upon request for our customers. We know how important it is to know exactly what you’re purchasing!

       

      Videos: Long & Short

      Our 1/2" Azuria Starfire Glass and Picking a Vented Gas Log Burner videos are prime examples of styles you can expect to see through 2021. 

      Videos will be the most frequently used technology moving into 2021. These videos are most likely to be short, providing a better idea of the true size and color of the product, and only lasting up to a minute long. For clothing, this may include a model posing or walking across the shot, and for home and other products this may include a lifestyle scene with accommodating products. For a fire pit, for example, you can expect to see it in a backyard with a dazzling fire blazing and cozy seating all around it.

      You may also see some longer videos, which is likely to include the same as the short videos but with the addition of a narrator highlighting key features of the product. Additional shots may include closeups to support these important features.

      Most of our Starfire Designs and Starfire Glass products already feature short and long videos, but you can expect us to deliver videos for every product from these two brands by the end of 2021. (And of course, we’re working to get videos added to the other fifty brands we carry, as well!)

       

      Spinnable 3D Models

      Spin the 3D model of this 40" Copper Canyon fire pit to see all four sides and a get a better view of the top.

      One step up from videos, 3D models allow you to spin the product around, seeing the back, sides, top, and bottom of an item from the convenience of your desktop or mobile phone screen. Additionally, they commonly include the texture and color that you can expect the true product to feature. You may not be able to hold the product in your hands, but this comes close!

      We’re excited to offer this function alongside our AR feature on all Starfire Designs fire pits by the middle of 2021—please read on to the next section for further details.

       

      New Mobile Technology: AR

      Easily view a 40" Copper Canyon fire pit in your yard with our AR technology.

      Augmented reality, commonly referred to as AR, will be where industry leaders focus their efforts beginning this year. With this incredible technology you can virtually place the selected product on your floor, against a wall, or anywhere you like with the hand-held power of your mobile phone. AR uses 3D models to achieve this and is designed to be true to size—when you “place” the item on the floor in front of you, that is the accurate size of the product you would receive if you ordered it. With AR, you can try out a product without visiting a showroom or worrying about making a return.

      You can try out this impressive technology right now on any of our Copper Canyon Starfire Designs fire pits! We’re actively working to release this same feature on all of our Starfire Designs fire pits by the middle of this year. Then on to fire pits for many of the other brands we carry!

       

      With advancements in technology and a boom in online shopping, online retailers are more and more motivated to make your shopping experience easy and satisfying. You can count on Starfire Direct to lead the charge with these new and exciting features, and if you need assistance utilizing any of these new functions on our site, our sales team is always happy to help. Please feel free to reach out to them for questions about any product via our contact us form, by live chatting them on StarfireDirect.com, or by giving them a call at (866) 578-8538.

      Main Image: A customer visiting StarfireDirect.com tries out the 3D function on a 40" Copper Canyon fire pit.

      ABOUT THE AUTHOR

      Emily Lozano

      As Starfire Direct's Product Manager, Emily manages the ecommerce team responsible for all of the products on the website. When not working, she enjoys tending to her many indoor plants, spending time curled up with a good book, and going on adventures with her dog, Sophie. She is an NFI certified Hearth Design Specialist.