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Unprepared Ep 64 - Real-Time Product Customization Using 3D and AR in Ecommerce with Marc Uible

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  • [00:00] - Sponsor: Rewind
  • [00:40] - Intro
  • [01:20] - How does Threekit help merchants? 
  • [02:25] - How virtual photography works
  • [04:45] - Steps to use Threekit
  • [06:15] - What Threekit is made of
  • [08:28] - How to use 3D solutions
  • [09:40] - Where does it not work
  • [11:01] - Where to find Marc

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Key Points

  • Threekit is a software platform that allows users to customize products with 3D configuration, augmented reality, or virtual photography. 
  • If your brand creates customizable or configurable products, it's challenging to show every potential variation of that product.
  • Threekit gives an interactive, engaging experience. Users can engage with your product, zoom in, spin it, add features like colors, fabrics, materials, and more. 
  • Threekit works with the product’s 3D files, CAD files, a high-quality photo, or any sort of design file. The product catalog and raw files are also important. 
  • They take the 3D model of a product and scan the variants. For example, a couch has different fabrics that may work on one or more couches. 
  • The software cuts down the amount of work needed to see how each variant fits all the other products. 
  • The beauty of this 3D solution is how it gives incredible experience. You can engage with the product, zoom in, customize, rotate, etc. all in real-time with no app needed.

Transcript

 

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Chase Clymer  

Hey, everybody, welcome back to another episode of Unprepared. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. Today I'm welcoming to the show another Ohioan. This time, he's coming from the south, and then he went over to Chicago now. 

But Mark, welcome to the show. How are you doing?

Marc Uible  

Chase, I'm doing great. A pleasure to be joined by a Columbus person. Thanks for having me on the show. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. So now, these days, you are working with Threekit in the product helps in the augmented reality/AR product space. 

I'm gonna do a bad job of explaining what the product does so quickly give, you know, the elevator pitch, for how Threekit helps merchants?

Marc Uible  

Definitely, yeah. If you're a brand that makes a product that is customizable or configurable, it can be challenging for you to show every single potential variation of that product. 

What Threekit does is we're a software platform that can allow you to give users or your customers experience to customize that product in 3D or augmented reality, or with something called virtual photography, where you can create millions of photos. 

And so you're giving this really interactive, engaging experience. So people can engage with your product, zoom in, spin it, add features, add colors, fabrics, materials-you name it, and you can see it 3D, augmented reality, and photos. 

Chase Clymer  

Oh, that's super cool. So this whole technology is super new. And obviously, there's a lot of questions out there about it. So let's talk about this concept of, what was the term you just used about photography? 

Marc Uible  

Virtual photography.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, so let's talk about virtual photography for a second. How does that work? And just in general, like one-on-one level explanation?

Marc Uible  

Well, first off, you know, everyone listening to your show, they already do product photography, right? If you have a physical product, you take a photo of that. The average cost of a finished photo is about $25 once you consider hiring an agency, all the editing, time, put it on your website, and things like that. So, that's actually a pretty high cost. 

And so what Threekit does is if you need a customizable version of your product. So we're not a great fit, if you only have one version of your product, or, you know, it's a super one-off product, we're not a really great fit.

But what we do is create a 3D rendering of your product. That's sort of a 3D, and then we put various meshes, they're called meshes. So it's like a layer on top of your 3D outline. 

And then, that mesh has rules. So that rule could be, hey, this could be one of 50 different fabrics, you know? 

Let's say you're making a couch, it could be leather, brown, leather, black leather, you know, etc. It could be cotton, it could be twill, any of those things in any color. You push a button, and that mesh goes right on top of that couch and it looks perfect, like a real photo.

And so that mesh then can also go on 10 other types of couches, and chairs, and anything else and looks perfectly real. And so that's the idea of how we get from, you're paying $25 a photo to you know, something like Threekit. You're paying less than $1, quite a bit less than $1 per photo because it's just using the software to say 3D objects, meet mesh, mesh goes on into various rules. And that's what the platform does. 

Chase Clymer  

Gotcha. So what's the lift to take your off-the-shelf product? 

Let's stick with the couch example. I'm a new brand, we're making these awesome couches with, you know, some cool features and benefits, right? And now we want to get into this space because one of our concepts is, whatever you want like there are 100 different factors that we have, right?

So how do I go from, I have our test order couch that just left our production facility. All I have is this couch. What's my next step? What do I do?

Marc Uible  

So most manufacturers have either a 3D file or a CAD file or some sort of design file. That's a great place for us to start. If you don't have that. We can work with super high-quality photos of your product that's existing. 

And then you have the raw file. And then you generally have a product catalog, which says here are the things that go on, you know, this mid-century modern Melissa couch, you know what I mean? 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

Marc Uible  

Here’s these 14 fabrics [that] can go on it. 

Chase Clymer  

And here are all the variants. 

Marc Uible  

Exactly. So we take your 3D model and your variants, and then we scan those variants. And let's say it's fabrics, and let's say different types of wood that maybe go on like the legs. 

We scan those things once and then those variants just say, Hey, I bet you those variants that go on that one, Melissa couch, also go on your 12 other couches. So then you massively cut down on the amount of work that you need to do. That's basically how it works. 

Usually, it takes between eight and 12 weeks from zero to live on your website, or Ecommerce experience, or marketing, however you want to use it. A lot of people use it in different ways. Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

So I mean, I don't know how other people are thinking about this. But in my head, and this might be a very dumb way to think about it. But it sounds like you're with the technology. Well, I guess it's there. Is it part human, part technology? Is it all technology to build these files? I guess that's the first question.

Marc Uible  

Yeah, it's a little bit of both. So the software is the part that takes your catalog, matches it, takes all of your rules, and then matches that to all the stuff that's already sorted. 

So it takes the rules and the catalog and your 3D objects. Your 3D objects would be like, Hey, this is the outline of the couch, and all of the different fabrics, let's say. And then the software brings them together in a way that like hey, maybe this leg doesn't go with this couch or this, you know, or this fabric does. 

And you set the rules on that. And the software builds it. But you need some artistry to make sure that that particular fabric, for example, looks hyperreal. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I mean, AI and you know, all on and all that stuff is very smart. But sometimes they make questionable decisions. So I'm assuming there needs to be some QA on all that stuff. 

Marc Uible  

Oh, huge. Yeah. 

Chase Clymer  

Alright, so when I'm thinking about this, in my head, this just reminds me of Photoshop files where you pretend...like what type of file does this produce? A new type of file? How do I, how do I wrap my head around that?

Marc Uible  

So we intake over 75 file formats and spit it out into like, 150, different formats, so it really doesn't matter. We can kind of spit it out in whatever format. We're working with Google to do 3D ads. So you can take your 3D object and show it in an interactive 3D ad. You can put it in email. You can put it on your Ecommerce website.

Chase Clymer  

We're skipping ahead now. Alright, so you got the virtual photography, which will allow you to show any variant plus future variants of your product that you might want to bring to market or test, which is something that I think people should do. So there's that. 

But then, so then the next step from that is, you have this one shot of this virtual photography, you know. Here's the one look. You guys went out now. You're saying to help educate the consumer on the product page, or advertising or whatnot, you're like, 3D is where it's at. What kind of lift does that look like?

Marc Uible  

So this is the beauty of working with a 3D solution. It all starts with one 3D file. So you can have interactive 3D, and send it off to virtual photography, and send it off to augmented reality. There's almost no difference in our view of it. 

And so you can have this incredibly amazing experience with like, "Hey, look at this insanely beautiful picture of this couch that set in the living room". By the way, you can set the background, whatever. 

Then you can say, "Oh, actually, I want to engage with it, I want to zoom in on it. I want to rotate it. I want to, you know, customize it in real-time." You can do that as well. And then I want to see it in my own living room. Boom. Put it in augmented reality. No app needed.

Chase Clymer  

That's amazing. So once the lift is done on building the 3D wireframe of this model, and then, you know, being like, these are all the variants, aka, the fabrics, or the wood colors, and all that jazz. Sky's the limits on kind of what's going on here.

Marc Uible  

Yeah.

Chase Clymer  

That's, that's quite amazing. So, you mentioned before, that there's a certain type of product that this makes sense for, it's kind of like the variant style products. What types of products does this not make sense for?

Marc Uible  

If you sell like, you know, vintage furniture. You're not the manufacturer of that thing. You don't know the variants. There's no customization to it. That's not a good fit. 

If you make low-priced goods, generally aren't a great fit. If you're selling things that are like $20-30, think it has a cost. And so it's not something where unless you're selling, you know, 10,000 $20 things in one go. 

You know, Swag, for example, can be a good fit. But it's not a great fit for lower-priced items. Yeah, if you're not the manufacturer, you generally don't have the rules either. So we're not good for retailers. So if you sell someone else's goods, and you don't hold any of the core files, you don't know the real materials, you don't know the real product catalog behind that thing and so it's gonna be very difficult to get set up.

Chase Clymer  

Gotcha. I just want to clarify something you said. So you said not good for retailers, if you don't manufacture that was your clarification. 

So a lot of your direct-to-consumer brands are both, you know, product builder, manufacturer, and the retail, you know, storefront in the same thing. So it would make sense. 

If you know if this sounds interesting to any of the listeners and they want to reach out and learn more about what you guys have to offer. Where should they go? What should they do? 

Marc Uible  

Check out threekit.com. That's a three like you know, you can t-h-r-e-e-k-i-t.com. 

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Mark, thank you so much for coming on and explaining that to me. I actually learned a bunch today. So I'm super excited. 

Marc Uible  

Appreciate it, Chase. Thanks, man.