Why can personalized products constitute a competitive advantage, and then turn into a shot in the knee? Furniture makers whose sales were based on brick-and-mortar stores learned this lesson at an accelerated pace as trade moved online in 2020. After all, their customers wanted to touch the fabrics, feel how comfortable the product is and finally see it with their own eyes.
So how do you move online with sales of furniture that has more than a hundred variants? Fabrics that can be soft, stiff, natural, synthetic. Difference between feel of leather, fabric, suede. Colour tones varying from shades of grey to bottle, mustard, powder, sand are just the top of the entire range of fabrics to choose from. And on top of that there are also legs and frames that can also be adapted to your taste and interior.
At Ar-range we have extensive experience working on tools to automate sales of personalised furniture. But still, we had to verify several processes while working on the new configurator for Scandic Sofa.
Scandic Sofa is a young company that produces furniture using a traditional, manual method, from durable and high quality materials from Italian and Belgian manufacturers. Their main USP is a gigantic selection of fabrics and huge space for personalisation.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the company already had its own online store, but more than 50% of customers were looking for an opportunity to see the product in their physical showrooms. Scandic Sofa decided to act proactively and give customers the opportunity to touch and see the fabrics without visiting the physical store.
We helped them create a virtual fabric sampler from which customers could choose and order samples they were interested in. It worked, the ROI on the investment was more than satisfactory. Following the blow, Scandic Sofa was looking for a way to increase sales in their online channel.
From the client’s perspective, there were two obstacles in the context of product customization:
When looking for a suitable tool that will not be expensive, we first decided to check the current resources. The client was in possession of 3D models of most products, photos of some variants, and samples of all types of fabrics. A photo session was out of the question because of its cost and lack of possibility to create a consistent set of images for all product variants.
Our goal was to provide buyers with a self-service personalisation tool that would show the configured product in a compelling way with a photorealistic visualisation and drive the sales.
First step of creating a configurator was to automatically create stunning-quality renders for all the variants. In order to achieve that, we wrote an automation script that would iterate through all the fabrics and leg colours and render each configuration.
This, however, proved not to be enough.
The problem was the quality of 3D models, which had an impact on the realisticness of renderings and the reproduction of colors and textures. The visuals were just not good and their quality was our priority.
This was quite a challenge. On one hand, we needed to make the 3d models as detailed as possible: folds, quilting and stitching were important for the render to reflect the real look of the furniture.
On the other hand all the models had to be kept light enough to load quickly when it came to web-based augmented reality.
Having completed the modeling work, creation of renders for thousands of subsequent sofa configurations, along with web-AR models, was just a formality.
At that moment we were ready to create the configurator itself. Why did we choose 2d over 3d product display? It’s quite simple. Even though web-3d technology can produce astonishing results, it still lacks the quality of a high-end render. Besides, we were still going to provide the 3d experience with web-AR. Each product configuration can be viewed in your room using a smartphone. The process was to be simple, not overwhelming with the number of options and not requiring the involvement of online store support - in accordance with the ‘simplest way to sell is the best way to sell’ principle.
It was not an easy process, but thanks to these meticulous changes and the client’'s patience, we achieved a great effect. The personalisation tool was blended seamlessly into the purchasing process and the stunning visuals emphasised client’s main USP - freedom of personalisation.
What we still needed was the cherry on top.
Since we already allowed the potential buyers to fully explore the customisation options, it seemed critical to let them see the selected sofa in the comfort of their home. This was achieved thanks to cutting-edge web-AR solution. All it takes is a smartphone. There are no external apps that the user has to install that would distract him from the buying process. As for desktop users - next to each product variant there is a unique QR code. All it takes to enjoy the AR experience is to scan it with a mobile device - simple as that. The AR feature and the ability to view the sofa in their space reassures the buyers that they have made the right choice and increases the satisfaction with the purchase. The transition to the shopping cart is possible both from the level of the 2D configurator and the AR view.
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