The importance of a good image — or a strong series of images — cannot be underestimated in eCommerce. In online shopping, choice is informed by what customers see on the screen before them — and if it doesn’t look good the odds aren’t very good that a sale is going to be made.
And nowhere is this more true than in selling large, expensive goods, like furniture. So-called 3D product spins are the set standard, enabling potential buyers to see the item how they want it, customized and all, to get a keen visual handle on what they are actually buying to display in their living room.
But constructing and displaying those images is more of a challenge than most consumers might expect. Retailers and manufacturers with a broad product range — products with lots of options, combinations of furniture types, colors, sectional arrangements and materials leather or fabric — have for the most part been limited in the time-consuming and often expensive process of manually producing and rendering 3D spins one at a time.
Marxent, a 3D Cloud company, is moving in to resolve that problem with its 360 Product Spins service, designed to help furniture shoppers customize and visualize the exact product configuration they want to buy while on a product detail page.
“We’re excited about 360 Product Spins because they address a real pain point for retailers,” said Beck Besecker, CEO and co-founder of Marxent. “360 Product Spins have been desirable and effective at increasing sales for many years but difficult and expensive to implement comprehensively. We’ve made it accessible and easy for furniture retailers who depend on mass customization to visualize any option that a customer is inspired to explore.”
Besecker also noted that the service e eliminates the need for expensive and time-intensive product photography or computer-generated imagery.
It is a particularly strong fit for smaller furniture businesses that surely want the conversion advantage that 360 photo rendering offers, but don’t have the resources to make a large-scale investment. Marxent essentially moves that consideration off the table by offering its services for a flat fee that allows retailers to illustrate and reflect configuration choices that include every possible option and upgrade for customers browsing a digital inventory. That content, according to the firm, will export to all standard spin fill formats and is compatible with mobile and web browser-based shopping experiences.
Moreover, according to Besecker, the 3D Content Library created for Marxent 360 Product Spins is a starting point that can also be applied to powering Augmented Reality (AR) furniture apps and Virtual Reality (VR) experiences.
“Our goal was to provide the most personalized visualization experience available without restricting catalog size or flexibility, to introduce a new cost structure that reflects retailer desire to offer mass customization as well as for easy deployment,” Besecker said. ”Buying furniture is a very personal decision and customers want to and deserve to see exactly what they’re going to buy. Now they can.”
And in fact some independent retailers — Houston’s Gallery Furniture for example — are taking the Marxent offering and running with it into higher-tech applications.
“We wanted to give our customers a surprise this Christmas season,” said Jim McIngvale, Gallery’s founder, known as Mattress Mack. “When I saw Marxent VR setup, I knew our customers would love it. Marxent was able to get our system up and running in just two months.”
Gallery customers who experiment with the new offering get to — while wearing a specialized VR headset — create a digital replica of their home in the planner. Once that replica is made, the consumer can then use the program to start dragging and dropping pieces in to get a feel for the effect they will have within their real home. McIngvale says the VR system allows buyers to visually configure, price and quote projects all in one shot — even with many individualized customizations.
“We admire Gallery Furniture’s approach to business,” said Besecker. “Since it is a community-focused company, we knew it was important to get the new system up and running before the holidays.”
And while Marxent works with medium and smaller players, they also do some big business with big-name firms.
Earlier this year, Macy’s and Marxent announced a partnership that will enable the largest virtual reality rollout in retail history, with approximately 70 Macy’s VR installations in stores nationwide. It is expected that an additional 20 locations will be launched in January 2019.
“Macy’s is constantly looking for ways to bring excitement and fresh experiences to our customers. Through the Macy’s VR furniture experience, we are giving our customers a new way to visualize a large selection of furniture products,” Hal Lawton, president of Macy’s, said in a press release. “Customers design their living space and, using a VR headset, immerse themselves in the virtual rooms they create. VR is a practical application proven to drive sales, and a terrific example of combining technology and the human touch.”