Emilia Dunaj
Emilia Dunaj
Head of Technology Insights
April 2024, 10 min. read

For those customers who can’t experience your products firsthand, the way you display them online is one of the deciding purchasing factors. A reliable product configurator can make all the difference. You may be thinking about getting a 3D product configurator and wondering if it’s right for your business.

Subsequently, with a 3D configurator, you can watch the details come alive, swivel around your product, and see how different options transform the look. 

But, in some cases, a 2D configurator may be a better option.

A fast 2D configurator lets you whip through options, seeing exactly what you’ll get in seconds. Perfect for simple choices, it’s a smooth ride to checkout.

Ready to explore more? Keep reading as we break down the strengths of each option, so you can pick the perfect match for your sales strategy. 

What is a visual product configuration tool?

A visual product configurator is a type of software technology that lets customers customize and visualize products online before they make a buying decision. Moreover, it provides an interactive digital platform for choosing different product components and features like color and size, showing what the final product will look like in real time. 

How real-time visualizations benefit your business?

More than half of B2B buyers consider incorporating interactive elements like configurators the most helpful in addressing their business challenges. These digital tools transform passive browsing into an immersive experience, where every click brings customers closer to their ideal product. 

Here’s how the visual configuration software can help you to stand out:

  • Enhance engagement across channels: Visual configurators turn passive viewers into active participants, thus seamlessly boosting engagement and making every interaction with your product a personalized experience.
  • Elevate conversions: Offering a hands-on, customizable experience leads to higher conversion rates. When customers can tailor products to their exact preferences, they feel a deeper connection to the brand and product. In fact, 89% of US marketers claim that personalization on their websites results in an increase in revenue.
  • Reduce returns and enhance satisfaction: Accurate previews of customized products streamline user experience and set clear expectations. Your clients’ satisfaction increases, and they become less likely to return the product.
  • Scalable and flexible solutions: Adaptable to businesses of all sizes, well-designed configurators can evolve with your product lines and customer preferences, ensuring long-term relevance and effectiveness.
  • Incorporate Augmented Reality (AR): AR takes interaction to the next level. It allows customers to visualize products in their space, thus enhancing decision-making and providing an unmatched product experience.

Both 2D and 3D product configurators show valuable information about products to potential consumers. They help to build a stronger brand presence and more efficient business processes. Investing in the product visualization software ensures your brand can keep up with current trends and positions your brand as a forward-thinking market leader.

Now, let’s dive into each of these innovative technologies and explore how they can impact your business.

2D Product configurators

2D product configurator software
Project Source

A 2D configurator allows shoppers to engage with a product in a simple yet powerful two-dimensional layout. This layout is created from static visuals, each representing a different product option. 

With this tool, customers are able to see and modify product features in real time. So, for every variant, like color or pattern, there’s a specific image to match. You’ll need to provide an image for each possible combination, ensuring users can visualize every choice they make. 

It might seem straightforward, but its effectiveness is in its simplicity and ease of use. 

2D configurators can also feature interactive elements like clickable areas, allowing for a more dynamic interaction within the two-dimensional framework.

Benefits of 2D product configurator

  • User-friendly interface: 2D configurators are easy to use, offering an intuitive experience for customers and your sales reps.
  • Cost-effective: These configurators are more budget-friendly than their 3D equivalents, making them accessible to a wide range of businesses.
  • Quick to implement: The setup and implementation of a 2D configurator are faster, enabling a quicker launch.
  • Reduced loading times: 2D configurators generally load faster, providing a smoother user experience without delays.
  • Photorealistic previews: They offer high-quality visuals that provide customers with a clear and accurate view of the product.

Limitations of 2D technology

  • Limited realism: While 2D configurators improve visualization compared to text-based options, they can’t provide the depth and realism of 3D previews. 
  • Lower engagement: Users may find 2D interfaces less engaging than 3D environments, which allow them to interact with objects in a more immersive manner.
  • User Experience: The flat nature of 2D can result in a less dynamic user experience, potentially affecting the user’s ability to make informed decisions or reducing user satisfaction.

Use cases of 2D product configurator 

A 2D configurator stands out for its speed and performance. It’s responsive and will work great on any platform and device. Its versatility makes it a good choice for pretty much every industry and eCommerce type. Choose this technology if you want light and fast product customization software.

3D Product configurators

3D product configuration example
3D product configurator software
Project by Right Information

A 3D configurator offers an immersive, three-dimensional view of products. The 3D product models are created by a 3D CAD designer. 

It allows for a much more detailed and accurate representation. Furthermore, customers can rotate, zoom, and interact with the product model in real time, gaining a complete understanding of its features and configure options. 

Similarly, the interactive 3D experience is much like seeing the product in real life. With its 360-degree views, customers can explore every aspect of the product, offering a perspective as if they were holding it in their hands. Real-time updates display changes instantly, offering immediate visual feedback for every selection.

This type of configurator is highly interactive. It offers features like drag-and-drop components that enhance user engagement. For an even more engaging experience, some 3D configuration tools integrate augmented reality (AR). AR allows users to place virtual models in real-world environments, showing a custom product would look and fit in actual spaces.

Benefits of 3D product configurator

  • 360-degree product visualization: 3D configurators offer comprehensive views from every angle, resulting in a better understanding of the product’s design and functionality.
  • Interactive experience: These configurators allow customers to engage actively with the product, modifying and viewing changes in real time.
  • Wow factor: The 3D technology creates an impressive and memorable shopping experience that can captivate customers.
  • Effective for complex products: Ideal for products with multiple components or variants, a 3D configurator simplifies the customization of complex items, making it easier for customers to make choices.
  • Fewer returns: With a more accurate representation, customers are less likely to return products due to mismatched expectations.
  • Augmented reality integration: Provides an opportunity to implement AR, allowing customers to visualize products in their own space for a better sense of fit and style.
  • Competitive advantage: Offering cutting-edge 3D visualization technology sets your business apart in the market.

Limitations of 3D technology

  • Increased technical requirements: These configurators require better computers and software, which might be a barrier for some users or businesses.
  • Slower loading times: The high-quality graphics and interactive features of real-time 3D configurators can result in slower loading times, impacting user experience.
  • Resource-intensive updates: Keeping a 3D configurator up-to-date can be demanding, requiring regular updates and maintenance to ensure it reflects the latest product options and features.

Use cases of 3D configurator

3D product configurators look impressive and innovative. They are great for showing off complex products where it’s important to see every detail and understand the size and shape. These configurators are especially helpful in industries like automotive, machinery, furniture, engineering, etc. As a result, they make it easy for customers to really get a feel for the product, helping them decide what to buy.

What is the difference between 2D and 3D eCommerce product visualization?

Interactive product configurators are essential digital sales tools for modern businesses. This is because they allow customers to customize and design their own products, which is exactly what customers want. While 2D configurators have been the standard in the industry for years, 3D configurators are rapidly gaining popularity. They are becoming the go-to choice for businesses looking to impress their customers and win more sales.

To answer the ‘what’s the difference between 2D and 3D’ question,’ we’ve gathered below a comparison table. It outlines the main differences between 2D and 3D product configurator software across various aspects.

Comparative analysis od 2D and 3D configurators

Feature2D Configurator3D Configurator
InteractivityLimited to options like color changes or simple feature additionsAllows for real-time manipulation, rotation, and inspection
VisualizationProvide flat, image-based representationsOffer immersive, three-dimensional representations
Customization DepthLimited to few options and variationsComplex customization possible
Product ComplexitySuitable for moderately complex productsIdeal for complex, customizable products
ScalabilityCan scale with moderate complexityHighly adaptable to many products
PerformanceFaster loading times due to simpler graphicsIt might be slower loading due to high detail, and requires higher computational demand.
Technical RequirementsAdvanced graphics and interactivityCutting-edge 3D graphics and technology
Industry FitSuitable for industries where visual depth is less criticalIdeal for industries requiring detailed visualizations

How to choose between a 2D vs 3D product configurator?

Selecting the right software is crucial for your business. Here’s a straightforward guide to help you decide:

1. Product complexity

For simple products with fewer variations, a 2D configurator provides an efficient solution. It’s straightforward, focusing on basic choices like color or pattern. On the contrary, for products with more intricate details or where seeing the product from different angles is crucial, a 3D configurator offers the needed depth. It allows customers to explore every aspect thoroughly.

2. Budget constraints

While 3D configurators present a more dynamic and engaging customer experience, they also come with higher initial and maintenance costs. If your budget is tight, a 2D configurator might be the optimal choice, offering a balance between functionality and cost-efficiency.

3. Device compatibility

Ensure compatibility with your audience’s technology. 3D configurators require users to have more advanced devices and a fast internet connection for optimal performance. On the other hand, 2D configurators are less demanding and more universally accessible.

4. Loading speed

In a fast-paced online environment, loading speed can be critical. 3D product configurators, with their complex graphics, might load slower, which could impact user experience. 2D configurators offer quicker loading times, ensuring a seamless experience, especially for customers with limited bandwidth or older devices.

5. Development timeframe

If speed-to-market is essential, 2D configurators are advantageous. They are generally quicker to develop and deploy, allowing you to offer the customization feature to your customers sooner.

7. Realism and detail

Firstly, evaluate the importance of a realistic product representation to your customers. For businesses where the visual accuracy and feel of the product are top priorities, a 3D configurator is a superior choice, as it provides a closer-to-reality experience.

Conclusion

The way you present your products is just as important as the products themselves. Therefore, the right visual product customization software can improve your product presentation, engage customers more deeply, and boost sales. 

Consequently, 3D configurators bring products to life with immersive detail and interactivity. They transform standard product displays into dynamic, memorable experiences.

However, 2D configurators offer simplicity and cost-effectiveness, ensuring a fast and reliable solution. 

In the end, both 3D and 2D are excellent options. The right choice depends on your product complexity, budget, and the preferences of your user base.

Ready to take your product presentations to the next level? Contact our B2B e-commerce digital experts today, and we’ll discuss which configurator is the perfect fit for your business. 

→ Further reading: How To Build a Product Configurator: Everything You Need To Know