Creation of a 3D Product Configurator

The challenge

How to provide the means for a house buyer to

  • see the actual house, in the environment they will move into
  • select all the fixtures and fittings, online, and buy them
  • choose from thousands or options, not dozens
  • Deliver quality imagery

The solution? The 3D Source Configurator…

The Challenge

Traditionally, selling new houses involves building a show home or two, some CAD-based artificial-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 the final build.   Making the selections involve multiple visits to show homes, collecting samples and brochures. All the time, the buyer has to ‘see the choice” in their minds eye.

Further issues arise as suppliers change lines, new designs are introduced, or the architects tweak house styles… every change involving expensive photography and distribution/purchase of samples

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

Presenting the options to the buyer is equally complicated, expensive and does not lend itself to endless choice.

Finding a solution to image reality, complete product choice and the ordering of fixtures 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

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

Once a house has been reserved, and build has commenced, then the buyer needs an online system delivering a wide range of fixtures and fittings. Selection also needs to be driven by deadlines, costs and the house buyers budget. When selections are confirmed the order needs to go seamlessly to suppliers, and instructions on what is required to the build teams.

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

The configurator creates up-sell/cross sell opportunities, adding to greater sales and profitability. The wider options mean the builder can  sell in more house elements than previously possible.(

Method

Stage 1: Requirements

Our first step was to work with the client to establish the project specification.

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

The process involved liaison with a number of departments, both client and supplier. Auditing of existing assets, databases and processes developed the methodology. The audit also identified new opportunities for simplifying the order to build process.

Sample pictures of surfaces, tiles, handles etc taken by the project manager. The files were then used as the basis to build products in the configurator. Existing CAD and Revit files from the designers and architects were also utilised.

Stage 2; Proof of concept

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

The supporting products, from handles, to work surfaces, tiles to taps were all created artificially, including shadows and reflections to achieve the maximum sense of realism. Separately product database feeds were created, to accommodate changes to products, prices and availability.

The configurator was built into a standard browser presentation, requiring no additional overhead, apps or software plugins.

Testing with customers, suppliers and in-house teams ensured the methodology for creating tens of thousands of options, perfectly presented in-situ was perfected. The process also ensured departments and suppliers became familiar with the requirements of the project, and allowed time to develop new processes

The launch of the first kitchen configurator was met with universal acclaim.  More than 30,000 customisable variations were initially presented supported by imagery that no one believed was computer generated.

The order system, including pricing has given house buyers have more choice, more certainty of suitability and more connection with their house during the build phase. The streamlined ordering process, with less visits or samples, brochures or photographs also delivers economies in time and resource.

Stage 3: Full development of all house types

Using the proof of concept as a base the process has now led to the build of a full suite of house types and with all room options, business logic and full ordering process.

The product variation count grew from 30,000 to over 100,000…

Configurator by-products

A number of additional benefits were realised from the Configurator project;

  • the background data to deliver greater detail to planning authorities
  • documentation and assets for departments working on post-build detail.
  • Technical guides for such things as tiling plans
  • Extensive new Imagery for marketing collateral; 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 and choices
  • An online self-service tool
  • Flexible product development platform
  • Marketing assets
  • A CPQ 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