B2B Selling With 3D Configuration

Use a 3D Configurator to Become a Digital-First B2B Seller

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3D configurators are transforming the way we approach sales. They’re giving companies a huge competitive edge while lowering costs.

But there’s more to 3D configurators than meets the eye. It’s essential for companies who use these tools to make the most out of the experience. All 3D configurators let sales reps and customers see customized end products. But the best tools allow users to interact with those products in real-time.

If you want to engage digitally-oriented customers, you need to take a bold digital-first approach. For manufacturers of engineer-to-order products, this means harnessing the power of a 3D configurator. This article covers benefits, risks, considerations, and recommendations to get you off on the right foot.

But First, What is 3D Configuration?

In short, “3D configuration” refers to using a 3D visual product configurator as part of the visual CPQ (configure, price, quote) process. With 3D configuration, sales reps or buyers themselves can drag and drop to configure products visually in 3D. You can learn all about the basics of visual CPQ in our Definitive Guide to CPQ Sales.

Why Use a 3D Configurator to Become a Digital-First B2B Seller?

3D configurators allow salespeople and customers to see rather than imagine what a final product will look like. But, there are many other benefits, including:

1. Companies That Use an Online Product Configurator Have Higher Win Rates

According to a 2020 Gartner report titled “Innovation Insight for Visual Configuration,” companies who use visual configurators have higher win rates. This is due to a few key reasons:

  • Faster creation of proposals. Proposals are quicker to churn out when they include auto-generated CAD drawings or 3D renderings. (In one example, a large manufacturer reduced proposal time from four weeks to under a minute.)
  • Perceived as more tech-savvy. People view companies that put in place visual configuration technologies as more advanced (and, by extension, place greater value on their products.)
  • User confidence increases. When users can see their personalized product in real-time, they’re more confident about the end result (e.g., a 15% increase in the “Add to Cart” rate).
  • The product is more compelling to customers. Users are more taken with products they can see and interact with. For example, same-store sales increased 20% after a VR pilot let prospective customers walk through their new custom kitchens.

2. 3D Configurators Eliminate Human Error

When your company uses a 3D configurator tool to do the manual grunt work, there’s no room for people to make mistakes.

This automation results in fewer delays, returns, and refunds as well as higher customer satisfaction and retention.

3. 3D Configurators Create a Personalized Shopping Experience

20% of buyers are willing to pay a premium for personalized products. But, personalize the experience, and they’ll pay even more! The best 3D configurators integrate with your CRM to vary images, options, prices, and recommendations based on customer profile, order history, and position in the customer lifecycle.

4. 3D Configurators Shorten the Sales Cycle

Visually configuring, pricing, and quoting a product simplifies the sales process for complex products, accelerating the entire sales cycle by 38% (the average for Epicor CPQ users.)

This acceleration is due to many reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • Accurate quotes generated in real-time
  • More templates and approval workflows already in place
  • Fewer questions and inquiries from customers
  • Greater confidence among sales reps

5. Online Configurator Software Increases Cart Conversion Rates

The same Gartner study found that companies that use visual configurators on their website increase cart conversion rates by up to 50%. In addition, higher attach rates for add-on features increase average order value up to 50%. That’s massive.

6. Many Industries Are Surging Ahead Thanks to 3D Configurators

The adoption of visual configurators is gaining traction across many industries.

Manufacturing (41%), retail (21%), home design (20%), apparel (7%), high tech (5%), and vehicles (5%) are the leading industries in visual configuration revenue, according to Gartner.

If your competition is already using this technology, you’re likely being outsold and need to act now.

7. 3D Configurators Can Be Leveraged Across Multiple Sales Channels

The more channels that can benefit from your 3D configurator, the greater your ROI. 3D configurators can be used by sales reps, dealers, distributors, and eCommerce customers. And no matter the sales channel, customers can expect a consistent omnichannel buying experience.

What to Consider Before Choosing a 3D Configurator Vendor

It’s vital to ensure that your 3D configurator is as effortless for your company to operate as it is for end-users.

To determine product effectiveness before purchasing, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will my team be able to create and maintain the models needed? The vendor you choose must have an accessible admin environment suitable for non-technical employees (as in, no coding).
  • How advanced is the 3D visual configurator? Not all visual configurators are created equal. For example, some need the user to click a button to refresh each time they want to see a new 3D image. Others regenerate the image in real-time, without extra effort from the user. Only the best can handle highly specialized, configurable products with hundreds of options.
  • Is the 3D configurator capable of being embedded? If you’re not letting end-customers use your 3D configurator independently, you’re missing out on one of the most game-changing opportunities – self-serve. Make sure you can embed your configurator into your website easily.
  • Does the visual configurator integrate with my B2B ecommerce platform? Without integration, you’ll have to jump through innumerable hoops to let buyers purchase online without input from a sales rep.
  • Does the vendor offer all visual configuration possibilities? Choose a vendor that’s future-proof and fits your company’s diverse needs, one that provides 2D, 3D, VR, AR, and CAD and design automation.

How to Get the Most Out of 3D Configurator Tools

To hit the ground running with visual configuration technology, here are some pointers:

  • Create a library of 3D models of your products so visuals can be used across touchpoints and use cases (i.e., build centrally, not linearly.) A bit of forethought here reduces costs and time to market.
  • Consider a multichannel plan that uses the best approach and device for each channel. For example, sales reps can show customers special order products on a VR headset. Whereas, for your self-service channel, use a 3D visual configurator with AR functionality.
  • Lean on your vendor for support. Your vendor should have the skills and experience needed to guide you through everything. You’re paying them to know the ins and outs of it all, not for you to waste your time trying to figure things out by yourself.

Final Words About Using 3D Configurators to Become a Digital-First B2B Seller

The truth is, both B2B buyers and sellers prefer the new digital reality forced upon us by the pandemic. But if you want to remain competitive in the new normal, you need to embrace new technologies that make it easy to sell engineer-to-order products from a distance.

With a 3D product configurator, you can create a virtual showroom and a buying experience that’s more compelling than any in-person selling scenario. You can increase customer satisfaction and retention but also eliminate human error and costs.

For further reading on how visual selling is transforming the way B2B companies do business, check out our visual product configuration interactive eBook.