Selling Opens Up with 3-D Visualization
And manufacturers can put as much or as little of their products as they want online. “We can do it for a complete semi-truck or we can do it for different components in a semi-truck,” Thompson says.
3-D also provides customers with a great deal of flexibility to do a range of “what if” configurations. The tool also has an AR component so customers can scan a 2-D barcode and use AR on an iPad or iPhone and place the product where it would actually go.
While 3-D visualization technology is already widely used in the business-to-consumer (B2C) space, Thompson says manufacturers have tended to be a bit further behind in terms of adoption. He mentions medical technology as one sector that has used 3-D visualization. Research firm Gartner identified heavy vehicles as an area that could make use of this technology. “We’re also seeing pick-up in the elevator and vertical life space,” Thompson says.
Just about any kind of manufacturing process could benefit from the use of 3-D and animation to help explain the process visually. “In traditional animation, everything has to be drawn, so it’s time-consuming, which often means expensive,” says Mike Perlow, president of Perlow Productions, an advertising video production company based in New Jersey. “In 3-D you typically start with a model character and then you can put that character into any position or pose without having to redraw it.”
A RANGE OF OTHER APPLICATIONS
“If you have a product, there’s probably a place for 3-D or AR,” Childress says, noting that people will always want to see and touch products. “Anything you can do to remove that barrier between having to go into a store to try something and getting a real immersive experience without having to go anywhere” will be embraced by consumers, he says. “That’s the barrier we’re trying to remove so people can feel more comfortable with their purchase decisions.”
3-D is just another way to help people move more quickly through the purchase funnel without having to go anywhere, Childress adds.
Nicolas Robbe is CEO of Hoverlay, which provides an app that allows companies to create 3-D visualizations of their products on their own. “Our B2B customers work in a broad range of industries, from construction to CPG,” he says, noting that a combination of 3-D visualization and AR has led to several measurable benefits. They include the following:
• Shortening the sales cycle. B2B sales, in particular, can be complex, often involving multiple decision makers. That generally means multiple meetings and a lot of time spent trying to convince the various decision makers. Using 3-D in the sales cycle, Robbe says, “allows a broader set of decision makers to be brought in on purchase decisions.” It also helps to get to a decision faster. “The ability to go from photos, videos, and feature descriptions to experiencing the product as it will be built/delivered can drastically reduce friction,” he says.
• Reducing time to production. Using 3-D in the sales process “can eliminate the need to build custom or short product series to test a collection with potential wholesalers by iterating over ‘virtual’ products instead of physical samples or prototypes,” Robbe says. A watch manufacturer, for example, “can reduce the time from design to mass production…from several quarters to a few weeks, giving them the ability to match trends and capture branding opportunities more rapidly.”
• Upselling. Helping buyers see what can be hard to explain—e.g., potential wear and tear, improved performance, additional options—can help manufacturers in the upsell process, Robbe says. This could involve showing a contractor specific add-ons that could drastically reduce the time it takes for him to install a door or window, he explains.
The 3-D trend also feeds into larger consumer trends, particularly as they become more comfortable shopping online, according to Childress. “People are getting more comfortable with not going in [to the store] and touching something,” he says. “They’re getting a better experience online and through mobile.”