Imagine browsing an online store in search of the perfect pair of sneakers. As you navigate, you’re met with dozens of color combinations, lace material choices, and design patterns. The entire experience is overwhelming.
Now, imagine a tool embedded within your ecommerce platform, allowing you to handpick the sneaker’s fabric, the lace type, or even the sole design, all while observing a real-time 3D model of your customized footwear. This isn’t just a tool; it’s a 3D product configurator, which turns a generic online shopping experience into a bespoke design studio experience for any configurable products. That’s because they curate, modify, and personalize the overall user experience, ensuring that your online purchase mirrors your unique style.
This in turn makes product configurators an excellent sales tool for an ecommerce business.
In this post, discover how product configurators help you to drive more sales and increase customer satisfaction, along with the top software picks for 2023.
How Product Configurators Help You to Drive Greater Sales and Revenue
3D product configurators allow for photorealistic visualizations that shoppers can interact with and modify in real-time. As an increasingly common component of online shopping, configurators help elevate the consumer buying experience.
In fact, the market size for 3D rendering technology peaked at more than $3 billion in 2022. The market value is projected to expand tenfold to reach $35 billion by 2032—and there are no signs of slowing soon.
Here’s how configurators can drive greater sales.
Say goodbye to seemingly identical, stagnant product pages. The addition of a product configurator allows shoppers to create custom shopping experiences each time they visit your online store. At a time when consumers claim it’s important for ecommerce brands to provide a personalized shopping experience, product configurators enable customers to continuously customize items.
Going back to our sneaker buying experience above, product configurators are designed to provide a personalized shopping experience that eliminates the sense of overwhelm. They use a configurator to reimagine their new custom kicks in less time.
This leads to higher customer satisfaction and more revenue for the business.
Whether you are selling shoes, couches, or specialized heavy machinery, product configurators enable real-time modifications for consumers to gauge how well an item can match their needs and specifications. For instance, configurators explain how modifying or adding software features impact the final cost of a complex product.
There’s a reason why many companies activate a 3D view, and it’s not just to get a better look at the item in question. It’s because being able to see a product from all angles, including the ability to rotate and magnify the 3D rendering, builds excitement. Product configurators help mimic the ‘try-before-you-buy’ aspect of in-person shopping experiences to boost online sales.
Once the vast majority of product page visitors activate a 3D product view, most will engage with the product configurator for upwards of 30 seconds. The longer shoppers interact with configurators, the more they engage with ecommerce merchants.
It’s no secret that more engaged shoppers will also lead to higher conversion rates, but just how much of an impact can product configurators have on conversions? Online merchants also experience 40% higher conversions with interactive 3D configurators.
Effective ecommerce sales hinge on a speedy CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) process to drive ongoing revenue. Because product configurators generate real-time pricing for each customer manipulation, the technology can automate nearly the entire CPQ process for ultimate time savings. Plus, product and sales teams no longer need to repeat the quoting process for each new item or product variant.
As per a 2020 BearingPoint survey, 79% of enterprises agree product configuration is a success factor for a business strategy; however, only 25% of business leaders use the resulting data for deeper insights. Between popular modifications (i.e., red versus blue) and selected features (i.e., cordless versus corded), analytics reveal pertinent trends for product development and sales teams.
If you were under the impression that video marketing had been on the rise, you’re not wrong—91% of consumers wanted more online videos from brands in 2023. However, 3D renderings have quickly taken the top spot over video due to the ability to rotate, zoom, and interact with configurators.
Several aspects of product configurators help to reduce ordering and processing errors, like the potential to interact with an item in different colors and to auto-generate the price for a customized product. These features explain why many merchants use configurators to reduce order returns.
Between interactive customizations and immediate price adjustments, product configurators drastically streamline the ordering process. Once an item has been modified to a shopper’s preferences, it can be instantly added to their cart for checkout.
Aside from reducing errors and streamlining the ordering process, product configurators also take the guesswork out of the purchasing process. Despite the inability to tangibly engage with a product, shoppers still say that configurators increase their purchasing confidence. By being able to customize their own purchase order, customers can be more secure in their decisions.
Looking for examples of product configurators?
What to Look for in an Online Product Configurator
An online product configurator should enable real-time personalized shopping experiences that drive more engaged, excited customers. However, it must also easily integrate with a merchant’s existing ecommerce site and inform an optimized sales process for marketing and sales teams.
Here’s what to look for in an online product configurator to best accommodate all the above.
Considerations for customers
- App versus browser-based configurators. App-based configurators require users to download additional plug-ins or applications to view and interact with 3D renderings; whereas browser-based configurators integrate with a user’s current web technology to simplify the shopping experience.
- Augmented reality (AR) capabilities. 66% of customers are interested in using AR for help when shopping..
- Advanced image quality. At a time when 75% of online shoppers rely on product photography to make purchase decisions, be sure to locate an online product configurator with advanced image quality. The 3D renderings you provide should be highly detailed but still load quickly.
- Level of customization. Product configurators allow ecommerce teams to set predefined parameters for customizations, including real-time texture, size, material, and color modifications. Confirm that the available customization options are a good fit for your range of products.
- Loading speeds available. Online product configurators have slower load speeds than static or 2D product images. Seek a configurator that leverages low polygon models to minimize loading times for shoppers.
- Link to sales and order fulfillment. With a goal of selling more products, it’s imperative your online product configurator fully integrates with your sales and order fulfillment processes. It should also seamlessly connect to your ERP software to eliminate continuous manual updates.
- Dynamic pricing in real-time. Any effective online product configurator should be able to calculate a final price for a shopper’s product customizations in real-time. Once a shopper is ready to place a modified item in their cart, a configurator should generate a custom order with the exact specs.
- Drive sales directly. When seeking a 3D product configurator, easy embedding and synchronization with their product catalog is key. An online product generator should seamlessly knit together the customization and ecommerce check-out process.
- Discoverability of insights. These technologies can derive tons of actionable insights for sales, marketing, and even product development teams. Insights should be detailed and easy to access.
The Best Ecommerce Product Configurators of 2023
Now that you know what to look for, here’s an overview of some of your top options on the market.
Zoovu is a leading AI-powered product discovery platform, including robust visual product configurator. Most known for their 3D product configurator, their tool brings products to life through an immersive online experience, allowing customers to view items from every conceivable angle and make real-time modifications. As customers adjust features, they can immediately witness the changes to both the product and its associated price. This dynamic interface serves as an all-in-one platform, designed to get customers up and running swiftly.
The cornerstone of Zoovu’s solution lies its capability to effectively clean and enhance the data fueling your visual customization tool. Going beyond mere visual configuration, this platform guarantees the efficiencies it brings to the CPQ process are not offset by order errors and frustrated customers. It secures injests and processes information about you product interdependencies, compatibilities, and accessory requirements, thus greatly enhancing the process of product exploration and elevating the overall customer experience.
At the forefront of Zoovu’s strengths is its data enrichment capability, which empowers enriched and tailored experiences for users. With multi-platform accessibility, customers can seamlessly engage with the configurator on desktops, tablets, mobiles, and more.
Zoovu caters primarily to enterprise-level needs. If you’re searching for a straightforward and budget-friendly substitute for a Shopify store specializing in customizable clothing, there are more suitable options available within your specific requirements
Configure One is a popular CPQ (configure price quote) tool and e-catalog software that enables detailed product configurations in both 3D and 2D renderings. It autonomously generates quotes and orders once shoppers input modifications. Configure One also includes beneficial manufacturer features, such as parts numbering and bill of materials, to further simplify product complexity.
A major pro of Configure One is its robust Real Time 3D visualization tool, which generates realistic scenes directly in shoppers’ browsers. Trusted by clients like GE, Stanley Black & Decker, and Dover Corporation, this tool also automates much of the sales and engineering processes to reduce costs.
Though Configure One touts seamless integrations with most ERP, CRM, and CAD systems, many users have voiced dissatisfaction about the types of supported software providers. Another common complaint is the learning curve, which users claim requires significant technical support.
Epicor CPQ is the new name for KBMax, a visual CPQ and product configurator software. Known for enabling a more efficient manufacturing process, Epicor CPQ is leveraged by companies like Tuff Shed and Architectural Lighting Works. With 3D and 2D visualization abilities, Epicor CPQ is fully web-based, so it can be embedded directly into your ecommerce website to enhance the experience.
Epicor CPQ is preferred by organizations of every size, from small businesses to large enterprises, signaling just how versatile the tool is. Users rave about the SolidWorks automation, which is an advanced computer-aided design (CAD) tool to create digital renderings of complicated products.
Consumer complaints with Epicor CPQ typically center around the back-end processes, such as responses to bug issues. While some complaints can take “months” to get fixed or make headway on a solution, it appears bugs in the back-end have little effect on the consumer-facing application.
Threekit is a leader in online product configurators, offering ecommerce merchants 3D renderings, augmented reality (AR), and virtual photography. Unlike other contenders, Threekit is known for its omnichannel experiences that power visualizations across ecommerce sites, direct sales portals, and even in-store. Current customers include LVMH (Louis Vuitton), Ralph Lauren, and Sloan.
While some product configurators cater only to manufacturing industries, Threekit has vast experience spanning retail and luxury clients, furniture brands, and building materials. It calculates pricing for consumer configurations in real-time and generates custom orders with exact specs.
Threekit is only available in custom pricing plans and does not offer a free trial, which can be unappealing—especially since the company expects involvement from key stakeholders from marketing, ecommerce, IT, product, leadership teams, and more. Fortunately, the company does have a Demo page on its website to view the visualizer tool in action.
As an official SAP partner, SAP and Zoovu bring a winning combination to your business that will ensure you have the tools to deliver revenue-generating experiences. Together, we deliver AI experiences that will provide your sales team with the support needed to guide customers through the buying process to make confident purchasing decisions. Zoovu works with both SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP CPQ.
Want to learn more?
Connect with one of our SAP experts to supercharge your business.
If you are looking to weigh all of your options, here are some other product configurators to consider.
Configure One Cloud is the sister platform of Configure One, both of which are Revitalize brands. Like Configure One, the Cloud tool enables merchants to create configurations, calculate real-time prices, and inform manufacturing processes from one application. However, the Cloud also leverages SaaS architecture and cloud hosting to eliminate the costs of infrastructure investments.
Configure One Cloud furthers digital transformations for ecommerce merchants who have relied on antiquated legacy systems. With the addition of cloud hosting, this tool has been specifically designed for complex manufacturers that produce and sell multi-option products and services.
Though Configure One Cloud is ideal for complex systems, that complexity can sometimes backfire. Current users voice concerns that even simple tasks, like inputting 3D renderings, are more difficult than expected. There may be a steep learning curve for basic tasks on the Cloud tool.
CIS Configurator is advertised as a flexible sales management system that’s affordable and easy to use. The robust feature suite includes CIS Configurator, ModelBuilder, and QuoteBuilder apps, as well as options to include discounts, promotional offers, and state or sales taxes directly in real-time pricing quotes. Quotes can also be auto-generated based on the product quantity ordered.
Because CIS Configurator is flexible, it can be hosted on a third-party cloud service or installed on-premises. It’s packed with sales-centric features, including an inbuilt currency converter for quotes in multiple currencies and the ability to attach product catalogs directly in customer quotes.
CIS Configurator has tons of advantageous features; however, it’s best suited for small to midsize sales teams. It’s also primarily geared towards engineering, manufacturing, and transportation industries, which—while not necessarily a con—can limit the usability for alternative sectors.
As a web-based sales configurator suite, Merkato is primarily geared toward marketplace sellers, such as Amazon merchants. It’s loaded with business automation features, including CPQ generation, order management, and even upselling features. There are also features to create customer-specific documentation, such as spare parts lists, to enhance customer satisfaction.
Key Marketo features include a drag-and-drop online product visualizer, pricing management, cost database, and advanced sales forecasting capabilities. The platform can be easily integrated with ERP systems to simplify order entries and eliminate silos between sales and fulfillment teams.
Despite a laundry list of benefits, many of the key features of Merkato are outliers to its product configuration abilities—instead, the tool centers on marketing and distribution functions. Not to mention, Merkato pricing starts at $15,000 per feature (which can add up quickly).
Whether you are a small business to an enterprise company, here are some of the top product configurators specifically for Shopify merchants.
As the name might suggest, SnapArt AI Product Customizer is a visual configuration tool that focuses on product photography and AI-powered designs. Some of the key features of SnapArt include an AI-powered image generator, AI-powered background remover, and product customizer. Combined, these features enable high-quality imagery that allows for ongoing user engagement.
SnapArt: AI Product Customizer comes equipped with a file uploader and AI image generator that can help small to midsize ecommerce brands save significant marketing costs. A merchant only needs to describe the image they want to generate high-quality designs for a large variety of items.
Though the visual features of SnapArt: AI Product Customizer are striking, the platform falls flat on sales-focused features. For instance, SnapArt does not allow for dynamic real-time pricing, meaning some customers might get sticker shock at the cost of their desired product modifications.
Bold Product Options, powered by Shop Circle, is one of the top-rated online product configurators on the Shopify app store, achieving a 4.6 rating with 2,400 reviews. By installing the app to your Shopify store, you can add unlimited variant images to your product pages. Customization options include color swatches, text boxes, and file upload fields for the ultimate personalized experience.
Unlike the above configurator tools, Bold Product Options allows users to upload their own images and input personalized text for maximum product customization. There’s also a totally free plan available after a 14-day free trial, which makes the Bold Shopify app the most affordable option.
User reviews for Bold Product Options are generally positive; however, one prominent complaint is a lack of customer service. Users dislike that there are no human service agents and only chat robots. Response times are also poor, sometimes taking up to a week to resolve service tickets.
Zakeke Product Customizer is a cloud-based product configurator that features 2D, 3D, and artificial reality (AR) renderings. Unlike other options on this list, Zakeke offers customers a Virtual Try-On option, in which shoppers can fully immerse themselves in the shopping experience. There are also available integrations with print-on-demand (POD) platforms to simplify product customizations.
Zakeke enables merchants to streamline CPQ processes with made-to-order 3D configurations and live quoting features. The AR Virtual Try-On provides customers with ultimate purchase confidence and even better, it’s not Shopify exclusive—the Zakeke app can be added to Woocommerce as well.
One major con of the Zekeke Product Customizer is the limitation on product variants. Users cite ‘significant limits’ that can be made available to the customer, including the number of colors and sizes. So, if you plan to offer multiple variants, Zakeke may not be the best fit for you.
Whether you are a small business to an enterprise company, here are some of the top product configurators specifically for WooCommerce merchants.
Advanced Product Fields for WooCommerce is a newer plug-in, which comes with the advantage of operating on an easy-to-use modern backend that adheres to WordPress and WooCommerce standards. The tool allows merchants to add 10 different product options (known as form input fields), which include dropdown fields that allow customers to select from a list of pre-set options.
Like other product configurators, Advanced Product Fields allows customers to personalize their items and displays all-in costs for the final products in real-time. Merchants can add a flat fee for each customer-added field value, and the tool even works with WooCommerce tax settings.
Advanced Product Fields offers a very restricted free version. The free version does not integrate with third-party plugins, including WooCommerce Subscriptions and multi-currency plugins. The free version also does not support quantity-based add-on pricing, which can impact total sales.
Fancy Product Designer is a visual product customizer designed for any print, apparel, or accessory product. It offers merchants extensive customization capabilities on a simplistic interface. Even the basic Starter Plan for Fancy Product Designer comes equipped with an online product configurator; however, the real-time pricing function is only available in the (7x more costly) Premium Plan.
Like Zakeke Product Customizer, Fancy Product Designer can be integrated into either Woocommerce or Shopify ecommerce stores. Fancy Product Designer is also compatible with the latest site themes and is fully responsive and simple to navigate across all devices.
International ecommerce merchants may dislike Fancy Product Designer because it’s only supported in English—and even that support may be lackluster. Current users claim the documentation for the product is minimal, but online chat support has been helpful.
WP Configurator is trusted by more than 7,000 businesses to enable real-time product customizations. This product configurator tool maximizes customer engagement by enabling shares and downloads of shoppers’ custom 3D renderings. WP Configurator also has optional add-ons, like Custom Image Upload to instantly add a logo, emblem, or sponsor to a customizable product.
If you were concerned your selected online product configurator could limit your customization options, seek a tool like WP Configurator. It offers unlimited configurations, numbers of layers, and numbers of views. Plus, it’s backed by built-in WooCommerce Support, which current users prefer.
WP Configurator is great for the customer’s shopping experience but does little for marketing, sales, and product development teams. It lacks features like real-time dynamic pricing, parts numbering, and direct sales portals. In other words, it is a strictly product visualization tool for merchants.
The surge in popularity of product configurators over recent years should be evident. These tools not only enhance customer experiences for better engagement but also streamline product complexities and quoting procedures for ecommerce vendors.
We’ve assessed several top-tier choices suitable for your business, taking into account your size and existing CMS. Should you find yourself in search of a comprehensive product discovery platform, consider diving deeper into the capabilities of Zoovu’s Visual Product Configurator, designed to empower real-time sales and drive increased conversions
A visual product generator is an online tool to enable 2D or 3D, photorealistic renderings of ecommerce products. These visualizations can be modified in real-time (such as altering the color or material) and users can rotate, zoom in, and zoom out of the configurator for a true 360-degree view.
You need a visual product configurator if you sell a complex product, such as software or heavy machinery, or if you retail items that have a high level of customization. Likewise, configurators can benefit ecommerce merchants with a vast product catalog, because 3D renderings can simplify the process of manufacturing, assembling, and photographing the multiple variants of each product.
The key factors to consider when choosing a product configurator are whether the software has high-quality images and is app-based or browser-based for customers; the level of customization and whether the configurator integrates with existing sales and order fulfillment processes for ecommerce; and real-time dynamic pricing and direct sales synchronization for sales teams.
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