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The importance of 3D visualization and product configuration in e-commerce has grown substantially.

To find the best 3D partner, find the vendor who most understands your industry vertical. When choosing a partner, industry-specific expertise and robust platform features are critical to success.

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There are many factors that go into evaluating a 3D partner. However, the one that should take priority is industry expertise.

When assessing vendors for 3D applications, always choose one with industry-specific expertise for accelerated speed to market, a keen understanding of industry-specific business rules, and a comprehensive approach to customer journey mapping. If you are an IT leader, enterprise architect, or product owner charged with finding solutions that can help your business successfully navigate, utilize, and scale 3D experiences to improve the customer journey, this checklist is for you.

What does “industry expertise” mean when it comes to 3D vendors?

If 3D is important to your business, you’ll want to find a partner that has expertise within your specific category. This means either that they have a “best-in-class” partnership with a major player in the space or that they have multiple successful deployments across many different brands and retailers. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and delays by seeking out a partner that knows the design, business, and regulatory rules and best practices specific to your category. For instance, if you sell lipstick, find a 3D vendor that has experience with cosmetics. If you are in CPG, find a company that has done CPG activations. Focused on jewelry? It’s ultra-specialized, and there’s a 3D vendor just for that. If you are a home improvement or furniture retailer, work with a vendor that has established expertise in home goods. Within a given category, such as furniture, jewelry, fashion, or lipstick, requirements can vary from retailer to retailer and brand to brand, adding additional complexity. Select an industry-expert 3D partner, and you’ll be able to focus on the specific nuances of your products instead of the foundational category knowledge required to build a successful application.

5 reasons to select a 3D partner with industry-specific expertise

Here are the five reasons that industry expertise should play an important role in the vendor evaluation process.

  • They exist Ten years ago, there weren’t any 3D e-commerce vendors, much less highly specialized vendors. Now there are.  A 3D vendor with significant industry experts understands the nuances at play and has resolved many industry-specific bugs. Take advantage of the work that’s already been done.
  • Keen understanding of business rules and regulations Business rules vary by industry, and you want a vendor who has familiarity with industry rules and a proven track record of implementing them. For instance, decking and kitchens each have their own unique world of business rules and regulations.  You don’t have to start from scratch.
  • Speed to market Companies with industry vertical expertise have embedded knowledge of your industry. This can translate into accelerated timelines.  Unknowns due to a lack of industry-specific experience can slow down projects and create an unnecessary, costly testing burden.
  • Knowledge of materials 3D materials and finishes vary by industry and product type. A company that has delivered thousands of lipstick materials should be your go-to for lipstick. If you are in furniture, finding a company that understands and has worked with case goods and upholstery, nailheads, patterning, and so on is imperative.
  • Complete understanding of the customer journey The process of shopping for underwear is distinctly different from the process of shopping for a new sectional or kitchen remodel. A 3D vendor that has already worked with companies in your vertical will help you to improve your total customer experience and realize ROI on your 3D investment more efficiently.

What to look for when evaluating industry expertise in a 3D partner

So what does industry expertise look like? The four factors you want to include in your evaluation process are:

  • Knowledge of industry-specific rules (e.g., NKBA rules) Does the vendor have recent experience working with, applying, and launching successful 3D products that utilize industry-specific business rules?
  • Knowledge of industry-specific best practices Can the vendor demonstrate proven knowledge of industry-specific best practices? A vendor specializing in fashion should be able to speak to the nuances, complexities, and industry rules of 3D for that industry.
  • Knowledge of the customer journey within your industry Is the vendor able to provide a customer journey map that reflects their industry expertise? An experienced vendor should have a good sense of the role that 3D plays in the overall customer journey.
  • Industry-specific expertise with 3D content and materials Request 3D content samples that reflect the specific types of content that you will order. If you plan to order kitchen cabinets, ensure that you see samples of kitchen cabinets. Review samples in live apps, not just in PowerPoint.

How much experience is enough?

Many 3D companies have produced applications or experiences for one or two furniture retailers. Is that enough? Probably not. You’ll benefit from working with a partner that has had multiple successful deployments within your industry. If you are reviewing a vendor that you really like and they only have one application in your category, you’ll want to dig deep when it comes to getting a sense of their industry expertise and understanding of industry business rules.

  • How to use the 3D Partner Evaluation Framework
  • Understand the factors to consider when choosing a 3D partner
  • Educate your team on the factors at play in evaluating 3D partners

How to use the 3D Partner Evaluation Framework

Here’s a variety of checklists you can use while evaluating 3D platform options. They can also be used internally in your own presentations to educate your team on what to take into consideration. It’s a great way to get your whole team on the same page.

CHECKLIST: Top factors in evaluating a 3D partner

CHECKLIST: Top factors in evaluating a 3D partner

Download the 3D Partner Evaluation Checklist Template

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Once you’ve researched vendors, what’s next?

Now that you’ve been through the process of thoroughly evaluating vendors to ensure that they offer the vertical expertise necessary to deliver your 3D project, the next step is to develop a 3D project charter. To get started on your 3D project charter, use our free 3D project charter template or contact us to request a 3D project consultation. For a complete guide to launching a 3D project, visit our 3D Project Planning Resource Center.

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