How a 3D Car Configurator Can Boost Your Sales

Despite their prominence and use, many people are still unfamiliar with this type of solution and what it can be used for, so we set out to answer any burning questions on the topic.
Jun 20, 2022
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People who were thinking about purchasing a new automobile have probably visited the websites of different car manufacturers. However, it’s not so easy to choose a car by photos and the description of characteristics without a sense that you can explore it in detail. Hence, companies who strive to present their products to users in all their glory use car configurators — an effective method of product presentation.

Nowadays, you can find these configurators on the websites of nearly every major automaker, and this approach is working. A study conducted by Adobe found that customization services like configurators can account for over 50% of conversions.

So what is a car configurator, and what are the benefits of custom configurator development? This article will answer all these questions and give you other crucial insights.

Car Configurator Meaning Explained

Car Configurator

A car configurator is a digital solution that allows users to customize various aspects and parts of a vehicle. Typically, the user is presented with an interface and multiple menus, with a vehicle visualization taking up most of the space. Accordingly, changes made in the menus tend to affect the visualization immediately. Additional information (such as price and performance statistics) can also be displayed and updated.

Car Configurator

You might think that this kind of tool is only helpful to automakers, but the truth is that other auto-related businesses and even gaming platforms also use it. For example, repair services can use configurators to showcase the improvements their customers can expect and test how certain modifications will look. Game developers offer the same customization options in racing games, allowing the player to create their designs and upgrade vehicles throughout a game, just like in Need for Speed.

Try the Car Configurator developed by Program-Ace

What Are the Benefits of Using a Car Configurator?

Car at the beach

Car configurator developed by Program-Ace

This solution has several clear and meaningful benefits to users, such as ease of customization and a better understanding of the product. Still, the benefits gained by businesses applying it are both more numerous and noteworthy. Below are the main ones:

  1. Better presentation of your product

    Boosting user engagement is a top priority for the majority of product- and service-related businesses, so when a visible buzz about the product or service arises, it can be considered a significant success.
    Car configurator software is fun to use and appeals to our artistic sides, encouraging us to test out dozens of unique combinations to find the one that looks and works best. You simply cannot get this level of engagement by looking at photos and reading text.

  2. Increased conversion rate

    Apart from the fun aspect of trying out different design and performance customizations, a customizer tool also has practical value in helping users make conscious purchases. They get to see the vehicle from various angles and learn more about the available upgrades, variations, colors, etc.
    This way, they can walk into an auto salon knowing what they want or even buy online. Consumers are often discouraged by some companies' insufficient information and previews, so this solution provides them with a more interactive and helpful experience, increasing the likelihood of a successful sale.

  3. Getting the edge on competitors

    For companies working in heated competition with other brands and businesses, even the slightest advantage can play a crucial role in winning over a larger market share. Thus, by offering a helpful tool like this, customers might be more persuaded to choose this company.
    Even if competitors provide the same type of solution on their websites, a business can still differentiate itself by offering a better visualization, more interactive options, and other characteristics that will make their configurator superior.

  4. Extracted data improves operations

    Setting up this virtual customization tool can provide valuable insights into what customers want and like. Thus, each decision they make through an interface can be saved and analyzed later.
    At the same time, an assortment of such data from thousands of customers can identify best-selling models, parts, and services as well as those that generate no interest. This data, combined with feedback and requests, can be a major factor in forming your marketing and production decisions.

  5. Making a sales department work easier

    By applying such virtual tools, companies can lighten the load of their sales departments. For example, a sales team can direct customers to try out different product versions instead of sharing photos, text, and lengthy descriptions.
    Naturally, they should be on hand to provide these things upon request, but the number of questions and appeals directed to them should generally decrease.

custom product configurator development

Types of Car Configurators

Car configurators are not a monolith and come in various forms, based on a few characteristics:

2D Renders

Configurators that rely on 2D renders are generally known as the most affordable and fastest to build. Instead of putting users in an environment where they can examine the product through seamless rotation, renders are essentially a series of photorealistic images that the user can list through.

While developers work on actually rendering a car and its parts, capturing images from renders, a user only looks at various vehicle images with different configurations.

As for rotation and viewing from different angles, this is made possible with 360-degree photography. A series of photos are taken from different angles, and the photos are then merged to give a product the appearance of a 3D shape. An example of this configurator type was developed by Jeep for their Compass model.

As for rotation and viewing from different angles, this is made possible with 360-degree photography. A series of photos is taken from different angles, and the photos are then merged together to give the product the appearance of a 3D shape, even though the photos were 2D. An example of this configurator type was developed recently by Jeep for their Compass model.

Offline rendering

This type of 3D car customizer is unique and fascinating. The “offline” qualifier might convince you that this type of software is accessible without an internet connection, but the reality is different.

It simply means that the rendering is processed by the server, and your computer/device doesn’t have to do it. You can think of it this way: to generate a customizable 3D car, your device has to invest a lot of processing power, which can slow it down substantially.

On the other hand, the device will have a much easier time when the server does the heavy lifting (rendering), and the device only needs to stream images and video of the completed render. In contrast to real-time rendering, the “offline” approach is valued for producing a higher frame rate and more realistic visuals.

Real-time rendering

Unlike offline rendering, the real-time one delivers visuals on a user’s hardware. In turn, it is up to developers and other specialists to create the content for a configurator. Naturally, there will be a lot of 3D content, so the models will be built and textured by designers and artists with specialized tools like 3Ds Max.

Case Study - Car Configurator Development

Car Configurator Development

Program-Ace developed a configurator that takes your interactions with clients to a whole new level.

Check Out the Case Study

In parallel, UI/UX artists work on assets relating to an interface, and all assets are tailored and modified to render in the engine of choice correctly. The mechanics and logic of an application are handled by developers, ensuring that it runs smoothly and all functionality works. Finally, QA engineers review the completed product for bugs and other issues before unveiling it.

Real-time car configurator

Car configurator developed by Program-Ace

Like all applications, car configurators are better suited to some platforms than others. Let’s examine the most common platforms where they are deployed.

Web platform

Web versions of this solution are accessible anywhere and on any device with an internet connection. Furthermore, they are often presented in conjunction with options to buy or preorder, so users can even rely on the solution instead of visiting a dealership. The 2D render approach is very compatible with web configurators. A 3D artist only needs to create renders and upload them, so that users can easily view car images on various devices.

Standalone platform

Standalone apps refer to software that runs from a file or a package on a device and not streaming from anywhere else. Essentially, they are desktop, mobile, and console applications. Standalone apps are not often built with the 2D render approach because of their simplicity, but tools like Windows Forms, WPF, and Qt can be used when such a choice is appropriate.

XR platform

Some companies develop this customization software for unique platforms that utilize XR technology. Augmented, virtual, and mixed reality can all be engaged to give users a more immersive and “hands-on” experience with automobiles. For example, a VR headset can put someone in the shoes of a person standing next to a car, so they see it in its full glory and scale to get a better sense of its look, both inside and outside.

How to Create a Custom Car Configurator As Automotive Leaders Do

Globally known leaders of automobile production have been using car configurators for many years as they realize that customers need to explore a product in more detail than photos allow. Let’s take a look at the most remarkable examples of those 3D car configurators that fascinate customers.

An impressive Audi Car Configurator

Audi Car Configurator

The Audi company not only manufactures luxury automobiles but also decently showcases them. A car configurator tool on its site presents over 30 products, and each of them can be customizable to a client's will.

Exploring a model, users see 2D renders of each car component and choose a specific option based on their preferences, starting with its exterior and ending with an engine type. Moreover, you can turn a photorealistic render into a 3D model-view with the ability to rotate it at 360 degrees. Thus, customers can select an automobile with all the desired features in its look and capabilities and see its final price considering all the customizations.

The complete BMW Car Configurator

BMW Car Configurator

Pressing a button to configure a car presented on the BMW website, users find themselves feeling like they are in an actual automobile salon. Choosing from 92 autos in their configurator, clients can explore and rotate 3D cars in 360 degrees.

Moreover, a potential buyer can customize 3D models of automobiles in real-time, adjusting the desired coverage, color, discs, etc. Once the set of specific features is picked, the final price is on the screen, and the last thing left to do is to settle the deal with a manager.

Photorealistic Car Configurator by Program-Ace

Following automotive leaders, Program-Ace has created a real-time 3D car configurator with multiple opportunities to evaluate a product from each angle. Clients can rotate, zoom, and customize a car through a user-friendly interface, applying desirable features.

Photorealistic visuals are represented in the effect of natural light to see a picture clearly, while the edits of the ins and outs are made in real-time. By the end of a session, customers see the final cost and chosen characteristics that will be performed in an actual automobile.

Develop an Outstanding Car Configurator with Program-Ace

Building a custom car configurator can take time and some money from your budget. Still, it’s a crucial step to level up your customer service and boost sales. Often, automotive companies don’t have an in-house team of software developers and modelers to construct a custom configurator for each car model.

In this case, you can outsource a project to Program-Ace — an experienced software development service provider with deep expertise in building custom product configurators. Partnering with us, you’ll get a progressive presentation of your automobiles of any complexity, from a simple but sophisticated 3D configurator to a hyperrealistic and interactive AR/VR car model.

Let’s discuss your project in more detail — contact us for consultation and estimation to make a final decision.

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