PIMSTAR: Improving B2B eCommerce with a PIM-integrated AR module

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Augmented Reality might seem like a technology of the future but it is already changing eCommerce. We’ve now used AR to improve product discovery and the purchase path in the B2B sector. Discover PIMSTAR: an AR module for PIMs.

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A star is born; one that can solve real problems in the B2B sector. AR has been a huge value-add in the B2C sector but companies have struggled to equally leverage its potential in B2B. We have used our knowledge, along with the experience we gained through working with the biggest B2B players, to create a flexible module for PIM systems. PIMSTAR represents a new and exciting way to discover products.

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What are the main issues for the B2B sector?

B2B sales are challenging. The purchase path takes longer and deals can get complex. B2B buyers can get overwhelmed by working with too many solutions at one time. They need something that can help them simplify their mixture of existing products and services. Companies need to help them overcome this common issue by bringing clarity to the process.

At Divante Innovation Lab we were looking for an effective tool for the B2B field that could help companies differentiate their sales cycle from that of competitors. We have also focused on solving industry problems like the time, logistical, monetary and environmental cost of taking heavy, bulky products to events like trade shows. That is where augmented reality cames to our aid.

Augmented Reality becomes real game-changer for B2B eCommerce

Some time ago, we took a look at B2C in fashion. Since that time, the situation has changed dramatically. Almost every day brings news of another use of AR by brands across every major vertical, including retail, beauty, fashion, entertainment, and food.

“Marketers have fed into this underwhelming array of use cases by using AR for shallow, entertainment-based promotions and not truly connecting the online and offline world…”

Thomas Husson, VP and Principal Analyst, Forrester

When we talk with eCommerce managers, we see that they still think of Augmented Reality, as a technology of the future. Our research proves that AR is already all around us.

Although Augmented Reality is mostly known as a technology used for marketing and entertainment purposes, its potential shouldn’t be limited only to games or fancy photo filters. It has a lot to offer to businesses as well.

Augmented reality in eCommerce solves customers’ pains, helps them to visualize new products and see them in real scale and on-site, and engages customers with interactive tools like virtual try-ons.

AR is also strongly visible in our “eCommerce Trends 2020” report, where it is named as a game-changer among the 12 trends identified as those which can reshape online sales. 

Divante and Kantar

“I don’t think there is any sector or industry that will be untouched by AR.“

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, Vogue Magazine

Business benefits of AR in the B2B sector

Purchasing departments now have heightened expectations for buying experiences. Companies that embrace emerging technology to offer more seamless processes will be the big winners. That’s the place where AR can help B2B companies enhance the buying experience for B2B clients and distributors, and drive more sales and loyalty.

What does AR give to distributors and clients?

  • Clearly demonstrate value at the earliest touchpoints. Sales decks and brochures won’t differentiate your products and influence buyer decisions anymore. AR gives buyers the chance to see how your product will actually interact in their space and fit into their organization, which gives you an early advantage. 
  • Take opportunities to upsell and cross-sell. Since products provided by manufacturers are usually large or complicated, there’s no easy way for sellers to physically bring their entire product lines to buyers. With AR, you can virtually showcase entire product portfolios at once in sales meetings, which creates opportunities to upsell and cross-sell. 
  • Allow buyers to make decisions with more confidence. Along with showcasing products virtually within meetings, AR allows buyers to actually interact with them. When they can visualize the features and benefits of a tool, buyers are left with fewer questions about how it will benefit their organizations. 
  • Improve the whole buying process. Augmented Reality can be used to uncover insights into the prospects you interact with and care about most. Using this information, businesses can optimize and structure future marketing collateral around real buyer behaviors and see exactly how much ROI new AR features actually bring in.

AR can convert to sales because it helps consumers become more familiar with products before purchasing and has become a key customer conversion tool. This is the key technology in PIMSTAR, one of the eCommerce concepts that we developed in the Divante Innovation Lab.

What is PIMSTAR and how does it work? 

PIMSTAR is an independent module that enriches PIM solutions with the possibility to display 3D product models on-screen or as Augmented Reality on mobile devices. It connects with PIM solutions like Pimcore or Akeneo. 

It works as a digital experience module that enables storage and distribution of modern assets (like 3D models for AR) which leverage product information coming from existing systems (like ERP, PIM).

Thanks to direct integration with the PIM system, it allows the use of 3D models and AR technology at various touchpoints across the eCommerce system. 

By implementing the PIMSTAR module, producers can use it to upload 3D product models to standard product information sets and then display them along with other product information online. What’s important is that we’ve already done such modules in the non-AR area, and are able to furnish your company with such innovations without compromising or destroying your current architecture.

Each time the product information page will be enriched with a dedicated marker (like a QR code) which allows the display of a model of the product in Augmented Reality mode on any mobile device. 

PIM system managers can use existing 3D models of the products to enrich the whole eCommerce platform or dedicated 3D models created for the purpose of the new product launch or marketing campaigns.

Easy to use AR technology in just 3 steps:

What do you have to do as a production company?

  1. Implement PIMSTAR in your existing PIM system.
  2. Upload 3D models to the repository.
  3. Display alongside product information as an icon or QR code.

What do I have to do as an end-user?

  1. Click the icon or scan the QR code to open the model on a mobile device.
  2. Rotate, zoom, explore and deconstruct products at will.
  3. Get more product understanding from Augmented Reality.
PIMSTAR AR module for PIM systems

Why should companies use an AR module in PIM?

By adding PIMSTAR to an existing PIM solution, producers and distributors can gain numerous benefits for business, such as:

  • Build an exciting way to discover new products.
  • Display 3D models across many channels like eCommerce or mobile apps.
  • Leverage 3D models that make products on the internet more reliable, trustworthy, desirable, and accessible.
  • Create a powerful tool for sales and distributors to present offers at meetings with future clients.
  • Allow better product discovery in multiple sales channels and raise conversion rates.

Is it worth innovating and investing in AR technology?

Many companies already have PIM systems and use complex 3D models during the production process. Although they don’t have them prepared with the aim of using them for AR purposes, we want to show companies that it’s possible to make the most of these existing assets by turning them into powerful sales and marketing tools.

B2B businesses are seeking digital offerings that can differentiate their sales cycles from their competitors. Augmented Reality of 3D assets lets you show technical products in detail, at lower cost, and promoting better customer understanding. That’s the real differentiator.

If you are interested in more details of the PIMSTAR concept, check out our Behance page or contact us.

Published March 18, 2020