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What Are 3D Product Configurators (and Does Your Business Need One)?

What Are 3D Product Configurators (and Does Your Business Need One)?

12 mins Read
What Are 3D Product Configurators (and Does Your Business Need One)?

In today’s crowded online marketplace, customers often find themselves lost in a sea of search engines, navigating endless paths and hoping they land on the product that matches their imagination. It could be a stand mixer in the perfect shade of blue, a gaming computer with just the right balance of RAM and graphics, or an office chair that combines style with comfort. With particular preferences and considerable choices, it’s easy to become hesitant and indecisive, weakening the connection between consumers and brands.

So, how do you make your ecommerce website a consumer’s final destination?

The answer lies in embracing and adapting to the expectations of modern shoppers. Today’s customers seek more than just generic, off-the-shelf solutions; they want to be part of the creation process, infusing their personal touches into the products they buy.

With a 3D product configurator, your store evolves beyond mere transactions. It becomes a creative playground where customers see their dream products materialize before their eyes. Shopping with you becomes less of a superficial engagement and, instead, a collaboration between brand and consumer, enhancing buyer satisfaction and confidence, and setting the stage for increased loyalty and revenue growth.

What is a 3D Product Configurator?

A 3D product configurator is an ecommerce tool that allows for interactive, photorealistic product visualizations that can be customized in real-time. Often found on product pages for ecommerce websites, 3D product configurators provide a better customer experience for shoppers since it is a user-friendly way to adjust the colors, materials, styles, and sizes of configurable products—and view the coordinating price points.

Common examples of product configurators include the 360-degree images of apparel, appliance, or furniture items found across various B2B and B2C ecommerce sites, like this example from our client, Dräger Their visual configurator equips buyers with a self-service environment to customize firefighter helmets in a way never before possible. Unlike 2D images that provide just one angle of a product, 3D product configurations allow shoppers to view an item from every angle with every customization option. 3D configurators are powerful sales tools, especially for complex products.

How Does a 3D Product Configurator Work?

A 3D product configurator consists of two components: a 3D model of a product and a customizable user interface. A 3D model is typically built using 3D images or CAD (computer-aided design) files that contain a blueprint or technical rendering of a product. These 3D assets are used in the place of traditional photography to enable photorealistic representations of product customizations.

Once 3D assets are prepared, the files are loaded into a product configurator, where the operator (usually the seller) can set predefined parameters for customizations. For instance, an apparel brand may allow shoppers to manipulate the color of an item only. In contrast, a furniture retailer may allow changes to any part of a 3D model, from base material and fabric color to size and shape.

After a seller establishes the exact configurations, customers can select from various customization options while they consider making a purchase. As elements are changed, customers can see how their preferences affect the final product—including the final price—in real-time. Configurators allow shoppers to rotate, zoom, and view products from multiple angles.

3D Product Configuration can be achieved only with clean, intelligent, and enriched product data. That’s where Zoovu’s platform comes in.
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How 3D Product Configuration Enables You to Sell More

With so many avenues for consumers to compare and purchase online, the significance of product imagery in ecommerce sales and marketing cannot be overstated.Just the ability to view a product from all angles makes the majority of online shoppers more inclined to purchase. Considering that statistic, consider these nine ways 3D product configurations can enable you to sell more.

Deliver custom experiences

Today’s consumers crave custom experiences, particularly while shopping online. As per a newly released data report from management consulting company McKinsey & Company, 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions.

By investing in personalization through 3D configurators, your brand can power the continuous custom shopping experiences that consumers prefer.

Remove product complexity and simplify the buying process

Imagine a customer who wants to purchase a custom-built bicycle online. Traditional methods require sifting through endless component lists, reading extensive descriptions, and trying to visualize how different parts will fit together. It’s a tedious and often confusing process that can lead to uncertainty and incorrect purchases.

With a 3D product configurator, this experience is entirely transformed. The customer can begin by choosing a frame, then visually add and adjust components like wheels, handlebars, gears, and paint colors, all within an intuitive and interactive 3D interface. Each choice is visualized in real-time, showing exactly how the bicycle will look.

If certain parts are incompatible, the configurator can provide instant feedback and guide the customer to suitable alternatives, eliminating the risk of costly mistakes. The pricing is also dynamically adjusted based on selections, providing a clear and immediate understanding of the price implications.

By engaging with the product in this way, customers can explore various options, understand how each choice affects the final product, and feel confident that they are creating exactly what they want. What once was a complex and daunting task is now an enjoyable and satisfying experience, removing barriers and fostering a deeper connection between the consumer and the brand.

Allow customers to configure complex products in real-time

An astounding 82% of visitors activate a 3D view on a product page to better understand an item, regardless of its complexity. With 3D product configurators, online shoppers can confirm that ecommerce products match their personal aesthetics or adhere to their desired specifications.

However, while configurators are often mentioned in reference to easily customizable products, they can also dramatically simplify configurations for complex products like B2B SaaS solutions. Buyers can customize software features to gauge product fit and price in real-time.

For example, Direct TV leverages Zoovu to help customers personalize their cable experience and accelerate the uptake of new TV packages and bundles. By doing so, Direct TV has seen a 31% increase in AOV.

Build excitement

Nearly three-quarters of online shoppers prefer brands that provide personalized experiences because most want to be more involved in the final purchase. The ability to design or customize a product that meets their preferences builds excitement for order delivery.

Not to mention, the majority of online shoppers are prepared to pay a premium to guarantee what they see online is what will arrive in the mail. The addition of a 3D product configurator enables ecommerce brands to help customers feel more confident and excited about their purchases.

Increase engagement with site visitors

Between traditional search engines like Google and vertical search engines like product comparison websites, online shoppers have virtually endless avenues for website engagement. It doesn’t help that most of these search engines come equipped with features that allow shoppers to stack products against one another, view demo videos, and otherwise interact with their web content.

A 3D product configurator allows ecommerce websites to take back that engagement and generate beneficial interactions with site visitors. In fact, online shoppers spend 20 seconds interacting with 3D product views on average, and 34% interact with a 3D product view for upwards of 30 seconds. By providing the ability to visualize and customize products, 3D configurations drive engagement.

Improve conversion rates

With the above information in mind, it should be no secret that providing customers with more personalized and engaging experiences can also improve conversion rates for ecommerce sellers.

Customers who can tailor a product to their specific needs are more likely to make a purchase. This can explain why sellers who add 3D content to their online stores experience a 94% conversion lift.

Achieve CPQ time savings

CPQ is short for Configure, Price, Quote, simplifying the steps in most B2B sales processes. Traditionally, product and sales teams would need to calculate a price and generate a quote with each new product configuration. 3D product configurators automate nearly the entire process.

3D product configurators have automated pricing built in, so each configuration customers select automatically changes the product pricing in real-time. In this way, product and sales teams no longer need to reiterate the CPQ process with each new item, achieving significant time savings.

GE HealthCare provides medical buyers with a visual product discovery solution to configure their Vivid T8 Ultrasound machine. By providing an end-to-end product discovery experience, buyers and internal teams spend 80% less time manually searching, evaluating, and configuring their ultrasound machine. Even more importantly, buyers are confident what they’ve configured is compatible and compliant with their medical facility to maintain a safe working environment.

Gain deeper audience insights

Because the entire purpose of 3D product configurators is to allow online shoppers to tweak items to meet their needs and preferences, implementing these tools on ecommerce sites offers sellers premium access to audience insights. Adding 3D images on ecommerce sites leads to a 6x growth in visitor time on page, ramping up the number of insights gleaned through each visit.

With the data collected through product configurations, ecommerce brands can identify trends that inform new product features or innovations that enhance their product offerings. This data can also be integrated into sales and marketing initiatives to fine-tune messaging and improve performance.

Differentiate your brand from the competition

Infinite ecommerce websites are infiltrating the digital landscape today, with even more virtual channels for consumers to investigate online brands. So, it’s never been more important to identify opportunities to differentiate your ecommerce brand from the competition.

Fortunately, 3D product configurators are a simple website component that can drastically improve consumer perception of your brand. With a 3D configurator, you allow customers to interact with and manipulate your ecommerce products in ways few other brands have mastered.

Ready to embrace digital innovation and sell more efficiently?
Check out how Zoovu transforms online sales for B2B manufacturers.

Benefits to Your Ecommerce Business

If an ecommerce store is your virtual showroom, think of a 3D product configurator as your virtual demo or try-on solution. It allows online shoppers to interact with your offerings and personalize them to their preferences. What does that mean for your business? Take a look at these five benefits.

Higher revenue and sales

Leveraging 3D product configurators has been proven to boost ecommerce sales and revenue. In 2023, 66% of online shoppers believed that 3D images increased their confidence in their purchase decision. Purchase confidence can also have a major impact on your bottom line.

When consumers are not confident in their purchase, especially in the product’s features, the purchase will likely result in a return. Consumers collectively returned $428 billion worth of products in 2020, or 10% of total retail sales. By utilizing a 3D product configurator, you offer customers a more accurate, confidence-boosting view of an item, minimizing the risk of returns.

Increased cross-functional collaboration

In ecommerce organizations, cross-functional collaborations often occur between product development, marketing, and sales team members—but it’s typically disjointed. The addition of a 3D product configurator advances cross-departmental teamwork, particularly when it comes to CPQ.

With a 3D configurator, teams can minimize the manual effort involved with pricing and quoting new products. From here, multiple departments can utilize the resulting consumer insights to work together to brainstorm new features, solve customer problems, and achieve business sales goals.

Higher manufacturing efficiencies

Though we’ve discussed ecommerce sellers in fashion and furniture spaces that can excel with 3D product configurators, just about any sector can experience higher manufacturing efficiencies. For instance, if a home design retailer learns that most customers view a certain SKU in blue but very few view it in red, that retailer can manufacture more blue and fewer red products.

However, even heavy machinery companies can leverage 3D product configurators for custom tools or equipment. Picture a construction company that requires exact specifications for a new excavator. A 3D product configurator will allow that company to tailor the product to meet their needs so that a manufacturer can create the product once (and get it right the first time).

Better product features

Including 3D product configurators on your ecommerce site will reveal which features consumers value most. By tracking and analyzing which product components online shoppers customize and manipulate most frequently, you can identify the most desirable features.

With this knowledge, your product development team can fine-tune new and improved features that align with real customers’ wants and needs—not what you assume they want and need. For example, if most of your customers customize the workflow automation features of your CRM solution, that’s a great starting point for ideating and implementing new workflow features.

Accelerated digital transformation

‘Digital transformation’ is a term we haven’t been able to escape since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. At a time when many brick-and-mortar retailers needed to enable better online experiences for customers, digital brands have realized they too must step up their game.

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3D product configurators are just one way for ecommerce brands to embrace and accelerate the digital transformation of their business. With 3D configurators, your brand gets an edge over the competition and provides more personalized, preferred conversational experiences for customers.

Tap into the power of visual commerce and watch your sales soar.
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3D Product Configurators: Applications for Ecommerce

With many advantages for online shoppers and even more benefits for ecommerce retailers, it’s vital to explore the various applications of 3D product configurators in the ecommerce industry.

B2B vs. B2C

Both B2B and B2C ecommerce retailers can apply 3D product configurators to build confidence in consumers’ purchase decisions.

For B2B brands, 3D configurators provide a more detailed view of complex products and allow buyers to customize them as per their specifications, simplifying the purchase decision. A 3D view allows buyers to explore each feature in greater detail, leading to fewer questions when it’s time to close. Overall, 3D product generators can support and even speed up the B2B sales process.

For B2C brands, 3D configurators act as a virtual try-on that allows shoppers to assess a product in various colors, materials, and other characteristics that could be toyed with in a physical store. Not only does a 3D view empower a more confident purchase decision and helps prevent product returns caused by an inaccurate comprehension of an item’s desired features or appearance.

Product catalogs in 3D

Did you know that 95% of online shoppers prefer an interactive 3D view over video playback of a product? With this figure in mind, remember that 3D product configurators allow you to take your customers on an immersive tour through your ecommerce offerings. Your entire product catalog can be powered by a 3D product configurator that even simplifies dynamic pricing for your shoppers.

Here is where you can learn more about Zoovu’s product configurator.

Merchandising and advertising in 3D

Beyond individual product pages and catalogs, 3D renderings have an incredibly long shelf-life. 3D images and configurations can be recycled and repurposed for various merchandising and advertising campaigns. As cost-effective solutions for photographing multiple product variants, 3D configurators enable ecommerce brands to highlight their offerings in increasingly interactive ways.

2D vs. 3D Product Configurators

Though the focus of this post has been on 3D product configurators, you may be wondering about 2D configurators, another type of interactive ecommerce tool. Both types of configurators allow online shoppers to customize and visualize ecommerce products based on consumer preferences.

However, 2D product configurators are limited in the level of customization they offer. 2D product configurators allow customers to only swap out one product characteristic at a time, such as the item color. 3D product configurators have the capacity to stack multiple customizations at once.

Likewise, 2D configurators cannot be viewed from multiple angles, only a two-dimensional flat view that does not rotate. In comparison, 3D product configurators allow online shoppers to view a product at a 360-degree angle and zoom in, zoom out, and rotate the 3D imagery.

Overall, 2D configurators are cheaper and faster to implement than 3D configurators. Though 3D product configurators have higher costs and technical requirements, the added visualization and customization options allow for a competitive edge and higher consumer purchase confidence.

3D Configurators: Examples of Online Brands That Use Them Successfully

With the numerous advantages of 3D product configurators, it’s no surprise that these solutions are becoming more common. Here are a collection of online brands that have used them successfully.


Steelcase is a global design retailer specializing in organized, attractive office spaces. Models are located on the brand’s ecommerce site under its Design Resources tabs, a page where shoppers can browse and save individual 3D product renderings to use with the retailer’s space planning.

Consumers can explore Steelcase’s various components for work surfaces, screens, seating, and storage solutions via Models. Multiple components can be downloaded and marked up from here to create a final product that completely adheres to a consumer’s spatial and design specifications.


BOSTONtec manufactures ergonomic workstations and offers a 3D product configurator for customers to design their ultimate product. The brand’s Workstation Configurator Test starts by selecting a base for a work desk, which populates an assortment of customization options.

After selecting the desk base, consumers can choose their desired size, feet/casters, and preferred work surface. Each additional selection adds another component to the 3D rendering. Consumers can zoom in and out and view the rendering from every angle, including upside down.

Oak Beams & Frames

Like BOSTONtec, Oak Beams & Frames offers online shoppers a 3D product configurator that initiates a custom 3D rendering fed by a consumer’s preferences. In the brand’s Design Your Own Oak Framed Garage tool, the starting screen begins with an outside view that can be toggled inside.

The 3D configurator loads with pre-set choices that are altered by various drop-down menus, such as wall cladding material and roof type. Each selection updates the product price in real-time. For instance, switching from Softwood to Oak wall cladding bumps the total product price by £676.

Key Considerations in Choosing a 3D Product Configurator for Your Ecommerce Site

3D product configurators can pack a major punch for ecommerce brands, but only if you choose reputable software. Consider these tips when choosing a 3D configurator for your ecommerce site.

  • App vs. browser-based. App-based 3D product configurators require users to download additional software to view and customize products, whereas browser-based configurators integrate with users’ existing web technology to function across operating systems.
  • Loading speed. 3D product configurators often have longer loading times than static product images on desktop and mobile devices, so selecting a configurator that can operate with compressed images and low polygon models to accelerate load times is imperative.
  • Level of customizations. While many 3D product configurators come with predefined parameters for customizations, selecting a configurator with an extensive range of options, such as real-time color, material, texture, size, and style updates, is vital.
  • Real-time dynamic pricing. A key characteristic of 3D product configurators is the ability for online shoppers to see the cost implications of their product customizations in real-time, meaning a provider with dynamic pricing is the key to providing transparency.
  • Augmented reality (AR) elements. Though 3D product configurators can significantly enhance the purchase experience, their benefits can be amplified with augmented reality (AR) elements, like allowing shoppers to view a customized piece of furniture in their home.

Looking for the leading enterprise-grade 3D product configurator to provide better product discovery experiences at scale, request a demo of Zoovu here.