Creation of a 3D Product Configurator

The challenge

How toprovide the means for a house buyer to

  • see the actual house, in the environmentthey will move into
  • select all the fixtures and fittings,online, and buy them
  • choose from thousands or options, notdozens
  • Deliver quality imagery

The solution? The 3D Source Configurator…

The Challenge

Traditionally,selling new houses involves building a show home or two, some CAD-basedartificial-looking imagery, floor plans and imagination. Once a house is bought,then built, the client needs to select all the extra; Tiles, door knobs,kitchen surfaces and equipment. Choices need to be made well in advance of thefinal build.   Making the selectionsinvolve multiple visits to show homes, collecting samples and brochures. Allthe time, the buyer has to ‘see the choice” in their minds eye.

Furtherissues arise as suppliers change lines, new designs are introduced, or thearchitects tweak house styles… every change involving expensive photography anddistribution/purchase of samples

So thehouse purchase, and furnishings can frequently be a challenge of imagination.

Presentingthe options to the buyer is equally complicated, expensive and does not lenditself to endless choice.

Findinga solution to image reality, complete product choice and the ordering offixtures and fittings led to the development of the Configurator.

The brief

  • Presenting options for every room in the house in the most photorealistic way possible
  • Allowing the exploration of multiple house types via photorealistic layouts, without building and photographing physical houses
  • Create a product ordering system that
    • delivers more choice than a manual method
    • allows fast changes to ranges
    • saved costs in samples, production and construction

The brief

  • Presenting options for every room in the house in the most photorealistic way possible
  • Allowing the exploration of multiple house types via photorealistic layouts, without building and photographing physical houses
  • Create a product ordering system that
    • delivers more choice than a manual method
    • allows fast changes to ranges
    • saved costs in samples, production and construction

TheConfigurator had to present different house choices, in a realistic environment,with different orientations and detail, right down to the view out of thewindow.  

Once ahouse has been reserved, and build has commenced, then the buyer needs anonline system delivering a wide range of fixtures and fittings. Selection alsoneeds to be driven by deadlines, costs and the house buyers budget. When selectionsare confirmed the order needs to go seamlessly to suppliers, and instructionson what is required to the build teams.

Thereality of the imagery is paramount; a house buyer must be able to compare thescreen to the end result and see no difference.

Theconfigurator creates up-sell/cross sell opportunities, adding to greater salesand profitability. The wider options mean the builder can  sell in more house elements than previouslypossible.(

Method

Stage 1: Requirements

Ourfirst step was to work with the client toestablish the project specification.

  • A detailed list of every configurable option, alongside a supplierlist.
  • An inventory of all room variations and orientations.
  • Audit the buying process and the build process to establish ordertimelines
  • Audit all existing software and architectural imagery

Theprocess involved liaison with a number of departments, both client andsupplier. Auditing of existing assets, databases and processes developed themethodology. The audit also identified new opportunities for simplifying theorder to build process.

Samplepictures of surfaces, tiles, handles etc taken by the project manager. Thefiles were then used as the basis to build products in the configurator.Existing CAD and Revit files from the designers and architects were alsoutilised.

Stage 2; Proof of concept

Akitchen was built in the configurator software. Every detail was considered,right down to the landscaping in view out of the windows.

Thesupporting products, from handles, to work surfaces, tiles to taps were allcreated artificially, including shadows and reflections to achieve the maximumsense of realism. Separately product database feeds were created, toaccommodate changes to products, prices and availability.

Theconfigurator was built into a standard browser presentation, requiring noadditional overhead, apps or software plugins.

Testingwith customers, suppliers and in-house teams ensured the methodology forcreating tens of thousands of options, perfectly presented in-situ wasperfected. The process also ensured departments and suppliers became familiarwith the requirements of the project, and allowed time to develop new processes

Thelaunch of the first kitchen configurator was met with universal acclaim.  More than 30,000 customisable variations wereinitially presented supported by imagery that no one believed was computergenerated.

Theorder system, including pricing has given house buyers have more choice, morecertainty of suitability and more connection with their house during the buildphase. The streamlined ordering process, with less visits or samples, brochuresor photographs also delivers economies in time and resource.

Stage 3: Full development of all housetypes

Usingthe proof of concept as a base the process has now led to the build of a fullsuite of house types and with all room options, business logic and fullordering process.

Theproduct variation count grew from 30,000 to over 100,000…

Configurator by-products

Anumber of additional benefits were realised from the Configurator project;

  • the background data to deliver greaterdetail to planning authorities
  • documentation and assets for departmentsworking on post-build detail.
  • Technical guides for such things as tilingplans
  • Extensive new Imagery for marketingcollateral; more variations than any photo shoot could achieve (or afford!)

What Braid Did

  • Designed the configurator requirements
  • Researched, identified and developed the supplier partnership
  • Developed the Proposal documentation, and briefing suppliers
  • Created and Managed the Proof of Concept (POC) programme
  • Coordinating client and suppliers to deliver the POC
  • Testing and project management
  • Creation of the Stage 2 project requirements
  • Creation of the full programme of work – 20+ house types, all rooms and options to be configurable
  • Programme management of the configurator and database controller delivering business logic for customer orders

In summary, the Configurator provides

  • Browser-based, speedy selection of options
  • Photorealistic imagery of products, environments andchoices
  • An online self-service tool
  • Flexibleproduct development platform
  • Marketingassets
  • ACPQ solution.

NB. Images in this case study are computer generated. They are not photographs. Below are more examples of Configurator projects

To find out more about Product Configurators and how they could work for your business, contact Braid here