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Product Visualization and 3D Product Visualization

What is Product Visualization and 3D Product Visualization?

Gone are the days when a few well-taken static photos were enough to win sales. These days, companies need to showcase their products in new ways to engage, captivate, and convert their audience.

Modern product visualization technology is changing the game. With video game-quality 3D, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) graphics, viewers can immerse themselves in interactive, lifelike environments and experience products like never before.

Today, product visualization is making an impact beyond aesthetic-led B2C industries like fashion and furniture. It’s becoming centrally important for companies offering complex, customizable products, as is typical across B2B sectors like machinery, construction, and high-tech.

In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know to leverage product visualization in your company. It’s time to empower customers to explore, customize, and develop a more profound affinity with your brand. Let’s dive in.

What Is Product Visualization?

Product visualization is a way for companies to create visuals of products before they’re manufactured. The aim is to give salespeople, engineers, and customers a realistic view of how a product looks and operates to create better products in less time.

The Power of Seeing: Why Product Visualization Matters

In a world where consumers are constantly bombarded with options, capturing their attention and effectively communicating the value of your products has never been more critical.

Here’s why product visualization matters:

Offering Custom Products

Optimizing product visualization is essential for selling both online and in person.

While showcasing static, mass-produced items is reasonably straightforward, businesses offering customizable and complex products, such as machinery, construction materials, or biotechnology products, have to go further to display their offerings.

Unlike simple, off-the-shelf items, customizable products require a deeper understanding before customers feel confident about purchasing them. Product visualization offers a powerful solution to bridge the virtual-physical gap.

The Rise of Immersive Product Experiences

Customers today expect more than static images and basic descriptions.

They want to engage with products in a way that mimics the in-store or in-showroom experience, exploring every angle, feature, and benefit.

Statistics show just how vital in-depth product experiences are.

60% of customers are more likely to buy a product if it's shown in 3D or augmented reality (AR)​​, and implementing 3D product visualization can boost conversion rates by up to 40%​​.

This is especially true for complex and custom products, where the stakes are higher, and customers need to feel assured that they're making the right choice.

Major retailers are investing heavily in AR and VR tools. For example, furniture and homeware retailer Wayfair’s “View in Room” feature enables customers to place items in their own spaces. Pinterest’s “Try-On enabled” pin AR feature ​​has been shown to boost conversions by 500%.

Large B2B companies are also getting in on the action, leveraging AR and VR technologies to enhance their sales, training, and customer support processes.

Investing in the Future of B2B eCommerce

In 2023, 17% of B2B sales were generated digitally, rising from 13% in 2022, and buyers are now regularly making online transactions with values of over $500,000.

As more B2B buyers turn to online channels, businesses need to adapt to meet their expectations. This has left B2B sellers facing a unique challenge: effectively showcasing complex, custom, or highly technical products in a remote digital environment.

Unlike B2C retailers, who typically deal with off-the-shelf products with basic customization options (changing the color of a sofa, for example,) B2B businesses frequently offer solutions with thousands or even millions of potential customization options. Buyers often need in-depth technical knowledge to understand their full value. This is where investing in next-generation eCommerce technologies becomes crucial.

By leveraging tools like interactive 2D and 3D product visualizations, AR, and VR, B2B sellers can create immersive, engaging experiences that bring their products to life, make them easy to understand, and enable on-the-spot purchases.

Trends Elevating Product Visualization

Product visualization has evolved from the early days of glossy catalogs and product photography. Let’s look at some key trends and technologies pushing product visualization forward.

3D Modeling and Rendering

The transition from two-dimensional, static images to dynamic 3D models marks a considerable milestone in product visualization.

It allows customers to explore a product from every angle, understand its true scale, and explore its details with greater realism.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

VR and AR experiences are thrusting product visualization into the future. By blending digital content with the real world, AR lets customers see how products would look in their own space—be it a piece of machinery on their factory floor or a new watch on their wrist.

VR, on the other hand, creates a fully immersive virtual world where customers can interact with products in hyper-realistic simulated environments.

Both AR and VR enrich the shopping experience and aid decision-making, reducing purchase anxiety, increasing deal sizes, and boosting conversion rates by 40%.

Interactive Customization

Today's product visualization tools enable deep, interactive customization.

Whether it's changing the color of a vehicle, selecting the fabric for a sofa, or building a piece of complex machinery from the ground up, interactive customization enables a personalized, engaging shopping experience.

This level of customization, facilitated by advanced visualization tools like CPQ (explored later), is crucial in industries where differentiation and customization are competitive advantages.

Real-Time Feedback

As customers interact with and personalize their products, real-time feedback ensures that the visual representation of the product and supporting details, like pricing data, are updated.

Immediate updates on changes in color, components, or features—accompanied by instant price adjustments—provide a dynamic user experience.

This immediate feedback loop empowers customers to make informed decisions swiftly, enhancing their overall satisfaction and streamlining purchases.

Generative AI Reshapes Product Visualization

Generative AI––especially text-to-image models––is transforming how businesses approach product visualization. By leveraging AI's ability to create unique, compelling visuals from text input, companies can now generate eye-catching product images and marketing materials.

Leading brands are already jumping on the generative AI bandwagon. For example, Heinz and Coca-Cola have successfully utilized text-to-image generators like MidJourney and DALL-E to develop innovative campaigns that showcase their products and generate awareness.

Coca-Cola's "Create Real Magic" contest featured AI-generated art in the heart of Times Square, displaying how generative AI can attract attention despite the occasional quirky output.

Challenges in Implementing Cutting-Edge Product Visualization

Despite the exciting trends and advancements in product visualization, implementing these cutting-edge technologies can present several challenges. Let’s take a look at some of the most pressing.

High Development Costs and Technical Complexity

One of the primary challenges in implementing cutting-edge product visualization is the high development costs associated with creating 3D models, AR/VR experiences, and interactive customization features.

Content Creation and Management

Creating and managing the content required for advanced product visualization is time-consuming. Developing 3D product models, textures, and interactive elements for a wide range of products requires time and effort.

Keeping this content up-to-date with product changes, new releases, and variations adds another layer of complexity. Therefore, businesses need to invest in tools to streamline creating and maintaining visualization assets.

User Experience Considerations

While advanced product visualization technologies offer immersive and interactive experiences, ensuring a user-friendly and intuitive interface is crucial.

This is especially true for B2B businesses that offer hundreds, thousands, or even millions of product configurations.

There’s no point in offering complex product options if customers and sales reps can’t access and select them.

CPQ: Product Visualization Made Easy

CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) is a software solution that streamlines the sales process for complex, configurable products or services. It offers three core functionalities:

  • Configure: CPQ guides users through the product configuration process, ensuring valid selections every time
  • Price: CPQ automatically applies pricing rules and discounts based on predefined logic
  • Quote: CPQ generates accurate, professional quotes and proposals

But that’s not all. Leading CPQ solutions like Epicor CPQ have additional features to streamline sales, engineering, and manufacturing. These include:

  • Seamless integration: Epicor CPQ integrates with CRM, ERP, and other systems for seamless data flow and process automation.
  • Rules and logic: A low-code rules engine lets non-technical users create and maintain product configuration logic, saving time and money spent on third-party developers.
  • Dynamic pricing: Prices are calculated and displayed in real-time as users configure products visually.
  • Approval automation: Quotes are routed to authorized approvers automatically. Approvers can then accept or reject them with a single click, saving hours of back-and-forth.

By simplifying and automating the configure-price-quote process, CPQ helps businesses increase sales efficiency, improve accuracy, reduce errors, and enhance the overall customer experience.

Here’s a detailed exploration of how CPQ transforms product visualization and its related processes:

Tailored Visualization Meets Precision Configuration

Product customization can be a slow, tedious, and repetitive process. CPQ breathes life into customization through advanced yet intuitive visualization capabilities. Customers no longer have to scroll through endless options—instead, they engage in an enjoyable, immersive visual experience.

With CPQ, every adjustment and selection users make is rendered in real-time, allowing customers to visualize their product as it comes together piece by piece. This direct interaction ensures the end product meets customer expectations by adhering to their wants and requirements.

Real-Time Customization with Instant Feedback

Leading CPQ solutions, like Epicor CPQ, offer dynamic pricing. The system instantly recalculates and presents updated pricing as customers select materials, features, and customizations.

This immediate feedback loop enhances transparency and empowers customers. It allows them to experiment with different configurations while staying informed about the cost implications.

AR and VR: The New Frontier in Customization

Epicor CPQ leverages AR and VR to catapult product visualization into the future.

Through AR, customers can place customizable products into their real-world environment, seeing how a piece of furniture fits in their living room or how a specific part integrates with a piece of custom machinery.

VR takes this immersion even further, transporting customers into virtual spaces where they can interact with customized products as if they were right there in front of them. Suddenly, they can actually “use” a new piece of custom machinery instead of looking at a generic picture.

This level of interactive visualization helps bridge the gap between digital customization and physical reality, providing a true sense of the product before production.

Detailed Specifications at the Click of a Button

Beyond visualization and pricing, Epicor CPQ also produces detailed specifications and manufacturing documentation to drive production efficiency.

Once a customer finalizes their design, the system can automatically generate CAD files, BOMs, and other essential documents required for production.

CPQ provides manufacturing teams with all the information needed to bring the customer's vision to life, slashing sales cycles from weeks to seconds.

Summing Up

Today’s customers expect engaging, personalized experiences when shopping online, especially when it comes to complex, customizable products. Meeting these expectations is no longer optional—it's necessary for businesses looking to stay competitive.

This is where CPQ solutions come in. By seamlessly integrating advanced visualization technologies, such as 3D rendering, AR/VR, and interactive customization, with core configure-price-quote functionality, they empower businesses to create immersive, impactful buying journeys.

With a modern CPQ solution, customers can explore products from every angle, see how their customizations look in real-time, and even visualize products in their own space. This level of engagement delights customers, builds confidence in purchase decisions, and, vitally, increases deal sizes, win rates, and revenue.

Product Visualization FAQ

How can 3D rendering and 3D visualization help businesses showcase their products more effectively?

3D rendering and 3D visualization allow businesses to create photorealistic visualizations of their products, enabling potential customers to explore and interact with them from different angles.

This immersive experience helps customers better understand the product's features and benefits, leading to increased engagement and sales.

What role does 3D animation play in product development and creating compelling marketing material?

3D animation is a powerful tool in product development and marketing. It enables businesses to create dynamic, engaging 3D visuals that showcase their products in action and can be used across channels, from eCommerce to social media.

By using 3D animation, companies can create product visuals that demonstrate how their products work, highlight key features and create compelling marketing material that captures the attention of potential customers.

How does a 3D configurator enhance the customer experience when customizing products?

A 3D configurator allows customers to interactively customize products in real-time, providing them with a photorealistic rendering of their personalized creations. This interactive experience enables customers to experiment with different options, colors, and configurations, ensuring they can create a product image that meets their exact preferences and needs.

What advantages do product rendering and 3D technology offer compared to 2D visualization in product design?

Product rendering, 3D, and AR technology provide a more comprehensive and realistic product output than 2D visualization.

This level of detail allows for better communication and collaboration during the product design process, reducing the need for physical prototypes and accelerating time to market.

How can businesses leverage 3D product rendering to create high-quality product images?

By utilizing 3D product rendering, businesses can create high-quality, photorealistic product images for the purposes of sales, marketing, and advertising.

For example, these 3D visuals can be used across various marketing channels, such as websites, social media, email campaigns, and product catalogs. The realistic rendering of products helps capture the attention of potential customers, showcases product features, and ultimately drives sales.

What role do 3D artists play in creating immersive product experiences for interior design?

3D artists are crucial in creating immersive product experiences for interior design. By leveraging 3D visualization tools and text-to-image AI models like MidJourney and DALL-E, they can create photorealistic renderings of furniture, lighting, decor elements, etc, allowing potential customers to visualize how these products would look in their own spaces.

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