One of the biggest hurdles in getting customers to purchase customized products is not being able to determine what their product will actually look like. Many people are uncomfortable buying made-to-order or engineered-to-order products because they’ve been burned before. Oftentimes, they may have ordered something that seemed great in their mind, only to get a product that looks completely different. Difficulty returning custom products bought online can compound that negative experience.
Visual configurators help customers overcome their apprehension by giving them a clear picture of their customized product before they commit to purchasing.
What is a Visual Configurator?
A visual configurator generates a 3D or 2D image on-the-fly for customers as they choose which product options they want to include. Instead of trying to mentally piece together what the finished product will look like, they can see it right in front of them.
Let’s imagine you’re looking to buy a new car online. A visual configurator might show you an interactive 3D model of the car that changes colors as you pick from the different paint options. Selecting a higher trim level might add a spoiler and leather seats, which instantly shows up in the 3D model.
Suddenly, customers not only have confidence in what they’re ordering, but it also gives them an opportunity to feel ownership over their choices and get excited about buying. The entire customer experience takes a massive leap forward with a visual configurator.
What are the Types of Visual Configurators?
There are two main types of visual configurators, 3D and 2D. However, the advent of augmented reality (AR) is bringing about a new dimension in the world of visual configuration.
- 3D Visual Configurator: A 3D visual configurator renders a realistic, interactive view of the customer’s product that updates in real-time as they make their selections. With this type of configurator, the customer can look at the product from every angle to be sure that everything meets their expectations. 3D visual configurators take a bit more expertise to set up, as you’ll need three-dimensional models to work with, but the results are usually well worth the extra time and expense.
- 2D Visual Configurator: This is the most basic kind of visual configurator and has the least amount of overhead cost to set up. It gives the customer a flat, 2-dimensional view of the configured product. 2D configurators can use scalable vector drawings with photo-based textures, or they can layer images on top of each other for a more realistic representation. Depending on the nature of the product, this cost-effective approach might be enough to help customers visualize their choices.
- Augmented Reality Configurator: Building on the experience of 3D visual configurators, AR configurators bring the configured product into the real world. Customers can hold up their phone and see exactly how their custom-designed cabinetry, guitar, or garage door will look in their own home. Depending on your product lines and clientele, alternate AR visual configurators could provide an unrivaled customer experience.
Why Should You Use a Visual Configurator?
If you’re wondering how visual configurators can actually add value to your business, consider the increased sales and customer loyalty they bring. When a customer can see a fully rendered model of the custom product they are ordering, they’re more likely to place the order. There’s something about seeing a product that makes the customer more comfortable about hitting the “Order” button.
Not only are customers more willing to commit to make a purchase, but they’ll also be more likely to bring repeat business due to their satisfaction from getting a product that lives up to their expectations. What’s more, you’ll have lower costs and deal with fewer returns because customers know what they’re getting before they buy.
Gaining a Competitive Advantage
For those businesses and manufacturers that are looking to distinguish themselves from all the other companies on the Internet, a visual configurator is a perfect choice for your eCommerce website. By allowing customers to see what they are customizing before they order it, you can increase sales and also improve customer service and overall satisfaction.