Predictably, the vast majority of ecommerce customers prefer to visually preview products before deciding whether to pull the trigger. More than 90% tell Yellow Duck Marketing that they consider visuals the most important factor when buying a product, with 62% reporting that they judge products based solely on their colors.
So if a picture of a product’s worth a thousand words, what about a three-dimensional rendering of said product? Ask former visual effects software creator Ben Houston’s ThreeKit. The Chicago-based startup is in the business of creating these renderings for clients like Crate and Barrel, Steelcase, and CIROC. ThreeKit’s offering enables brands to produce interactive three-dimensional “experiences,” such as product tours and comparison tools. And judging by the cadence of ThreeKit’s fundraising rounds, business is positively booming.
Today the company announced that it has raised $20 million in series A funding from Shasta Ventures, with participation from Salesforce Ventures, and individual investor Godard Abel. This brings the company’s total raised to roughly $30 million, following a $10 million seed round in January, and ThreeKit president Joachim Klein said the new funds will accelerate R&D and hiring.
“Buying online takes away the ability to touch and feel a product, so interactive product visuals are critical, especially for highly configurable and sophisticated products,” said ThreeKit president Joachim Klein, who joined the company in February. “Commercial photography falls far short of online buyer expectations, and current ecommerce experiences don’t capture how consumers engage with product listing before buying. ThreeKit overcomes these challenges by enabling incredible virtual product experiences.”
ThreeKit’s platform takes the grunt work out of computer modeling. Customers load their products in and tap a dashboard of options to create, edit, and optimize display content for use in product configurators, sales aids, or augmented reality and virtual reality apps. One use case ThreeKit touts pretty heavily is photorealistic images: With no more than a three-dimensional model of a product, it says, brands can add colors, textures, and lighting; set camera angles; and generate images and thumbnails of “all product permutations.”
ThreeKit’s toolset integrates with existing digital image creation software through a frontend called Virtual Photographer, which the company says can scale to catalogs containing hundreds to thousands of different products. It complements ThreeKit’s recently launched three-dimensional product configuration tool that collates insights like which SKUs are performing best and which ships with a rules engine dubbed Instant Assortment Change that sends visuals to stores the moment they’re generated.
ThreeKit claims that a few of its ecommerce clients have experienced a 40% increase in conversions, an 80% reduction in returns, and 20% higher order value after trading out static product images for three-dimensional visuals.
“We look for passionate, entrepreneurial teams who understand what it takes to bring their vision to life, and that describes ThreeKit perfectly,” said Shasta Ventures partner Jacob Mullins. “Beyond that, ThreeKit’s product is poised to fundamentally change the way retailers and brands create and manage visual content.”
In addition to its Chicago headquarters, ThreeKit has a technology innovation center in Ottawa.