For certain highly individualized products, distribution via the network has been difficult up to now and sales via this distribution channel have been low. 3D configurators with realistic animation provide a remedy. Products that could previously only be sold with high sales costs can now be configured independently by the customer using these 3D product configurators. Quickly configure and order a new seat between dinner and prime time, design „his“ perfect car via smartphone – what was unthinkable 20 years ago is possible today and is used more and more. Whereas custom-made products used to be the epitome of luxury, now you can configure your favourite individual products with just a few mouse clicks and have them delivered to your front door.

application area product configurator

The standard online shop only works to a limited extent for individualized products. The customer wants his personal buying experience and the competition on the online retailer market is huge. Attracting attention and specifically addressing the customer is the motto for the provider.

Spatial visualization in Realtime.

While eCommerce turnover in the B2C sector in 2005 was still 13.8 billion euros a year, it had already tripled to 39 billion euros by 2014 – and the trend is rising.

The internet enables the customer to compare prices and quality, to read experience reports and to exchange information. Only after extensive research the customer decides for its future product. The more expensive the investment, the more extensively also the information procurement in the apron.

Of course, companies have long since responded to changing consumer behavior: every professional online provider attracts and keeps customers with a progressive website, a user-friendly online shop, a positive image and reliable customer service.

For many products, as much information as possible about the product description and a series of product photographs is sufficient.

But more complex products, for which a multitude of variations are possible, this is by far not enough. Here, the new supreme discipline in the hotly contested market is 3D product configuration, which enables the customer to „create“ the product optimized for his needs. This enables them to assemble their product in Realtime and order it directly.

What can be configured with a 3D configurator?

In principle, everything – from unique footwear and individual prams to complete detached houses – can be used by manufacturers and dealers for configuration systems.

Potential areas for 3D product configuration:

  • Furniture
  • Vehicles
  • Bicycles
  • Tools
  • Lighting
  • Fasteners
  • Construction Equipment
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Household and kitchen appliances
  • Medical technology and much more

Another area in which 3D product configurators have achieved general acceptance is the fashion industry, especially the custom manufacturing of apparel. With the progressive improvement of the graphic performance of modern display devices, the Realtime visualization of complex surfaces is also possible. The photorealistic representation of products with freely selectable surfaces and colors is no longer a utopia by means of 3D product configuration – sufficient computing power for 3D rendering is assumed.

With a good product configurator, powerful servers, appealing photomontages, live generated 3D graphics and a simple handling it should be possible to address new demanding customers with impressive configuration possibilities.

Target group, products and design are crucial.

In order to find the right configurator for you, these points should be considered absolutely: First of all, the retailer must be aware of who he wants to reach with his products. A target group analysis is indispensable – customers with an affinity for technology are often nor impressed with fancy graphics, but want essential information at first glance. Products that focus on design must be convincing on a visual level. The wishes of the customers are therefore decisive for the choice of the configurator.

But one thing is the basis for all product configurators:

The handling should be as simple as possible. Ideally, the customer surfs the internet, lands on a retailer`s website, discovers the configurator and gets everything he needs – within a few clicks. Playing around with the different variants remains in the customer`s memory and should bring a certain fun factor with it. If you are stressed and challenged in your daily work, the configuration experience should bring relaxation and not cost you additional nerves and time.

Fast loading times therefore also decide about staying on a website. If you offer simple products in your online shop, this is no problem. Many Items do not offer an infinite number of variants, but can be configured to a limited extent. Too complex things – let`s take the extreme example of „houses““- are too difficult to implement in a 3D configurator. This is due to the great variety of variants – in this case everything from the choice of the floor plan to the colour of the front door is individual. 3D configurators are more of a hindrance here, as the configuration scenario takes too long and the customer does not receive an interesting product within a few minutes.

Therefore, products with 3-5 configuration settings are better suited to achieve a sustainably different design or an optimized function – in furniture stores, cars or bicycles, but also in medical products or industry, configurators are therefore a sales-supporting – if not even „saleable“ – aid.

Since 3D product configurators work on a optical basis, appealing graphics are of course the be-all and end-all. Products must be presented in the highest quality and, if possible, viewed from several sides. Zooming makes it possible to get a more accurate picture, because even the smallest details become visible. Therefore the quality of the 3D animation should be as high as possible.

Product design and marketing use one data source.

For variant products it is therefore advisable to work with 3D animations, which are produced once in 3D and can then be used with any number of product variants.

This saves production costs for marketing, since the product is not only designed completely on the computer, but also many marketing documents and the 3D configurator can be created directly from this data.

The possible variations such as surfaces and colours are taken into account directly in the construction phase via textures. In the ideal case, not even an exhibit of the product needs to be available. Sales are made directly via the construction data (CAD = Computer Aided Design).

The colour and material variants are designed on the computer and entered into the configurator. With the image material produced by a good product configurator, the customer should only be able to see a small difference between animation and a photograph.

Keeping an eye on all costs in an additional criterion for customers. Prices of individual components should be displayed during configuration and presented as a sum at the end. In this way, the customer can permanently orientate himself to his budget and is not deterred by an excessively high purchase price at the end.

Clear advantages through 3D product configurators.

The financial outlay for a 3D configurator can be a high investment, but it is often very rewarding. The advantages are obvious; With a suitable configurator you can secure a unique selling proposition with which the retailer can sustainably differentiate itself from its competitors. Sales via a product configurator without alternative. In addition, a product configurator functions independently of location, time and personnel. Long communication channels are spared and inconsistencies can be prevented.

The retailer can also optimize procurement and production planning, produce in special requests, possibly reduce inventories and thus also save inventory costs.

The product experience remains in the customer`s memory through a 3D animation and the purchase decision is thus positively influenced in the long term. A retailer can thus respond to individual wishes and address customers in a target-group-oriented manner without great long-term effort.

There is no alternative to selling certain products via a product configurator: the only cost-intensive option here is the possibility of a time-consuming personal planning meeting. Of course, this should be avoided or limited to the trickiest cases.

Product configurators allow the customer to largely design a product in his own. In most cases, only minimal personal sales effort is required to close the sale.

3D product configurators thus offer a 24/7 service in the best case and also promote the individuality and creativity of the customers – and thus customer loyalty. Disappointed and dissatisfied customers select themselves automatically from the customer base. Thus the complaint and migration rates sink additionally even still.

Conclusion: 3D product configurators lift potentials.

3D product configurators can open up completely new market segments for online trading. Where until recently only a complex customer consultation led to the conclusion of a sale, today demanding customers can be won without friction loss and with a high degree of accuracy using online configurators. Of course,the optimal mix of consultation and independent action on the part of the customer is what counts. And always keep in mind: the customer must reach his goal with as few clicks as possible.