Digitising Your Fabrics: Our Process

We understand that not everyone has been immersed in the world of 3D. You may have been told that you will need 3D assets of your fabrics, but you are not sure how the process works and it is stopping you from taking that first step. So, we thought we’d give some clarity:

1. The Pitch

We want to show off what we can do, and we want to make sure that will help the development of your business. So, the first step is inviting you to come to our office to have a peek of the projects we are currently working on, and we will probably show off some technical wizardry – the team is pretty talented, we can’t help showing them off. We will then sit you down and talk about where the gaps in your visual marketing and online sales are, and the best way to solve them. Don’t expect any visual concepts yet, but we can show you some of our case studies that may sway you. (We also serve a great lunch which is worth the visit alone.)

 

Then there is increased SEO. Search engines favour relevant content. And images getting clicks are exactly that type of materials: they bring visitors to the website, lead them to explore its content and interact with it. So, the more successful images you have, the more chance you have of getting and keeping top positions in the search results.

 

Needless to say, each product shot needs alt and title tags, and descriptions. So when your high-quality, engaging product design renderings have well-written attributes with relevant keywords, search engine rankings will know that your page content is high-quality and therefore useful for your target audience.

2. The Brief

Once we’ve got the job (thanks!), we will ask for a swatch or flat photograph of each fabric that you need digitalised so that we can work our magic. If you were really great clients you would also send us a lifestyle shot of the fabric, wrapping a product, so we can see the way light hits it at different angles.

3. The Build

Our team will then recreate your fabrics with flawless step and repeat patterns, photo-realistic textures and colour matching perfection. You don’t need to know too much about this part, except that we can recreate your fabrics in record time. Seriously, we can have a fabric swatch perfectly digitised in under ten minutes. You really won’t believe it.

4. The Finished Product

You have proofed and fallen in love with all the images. So now it is up to you where you are going to use them. We can put them in a great brochure design. Use them to drastically improve your eCommerce website or ask us to build room sets for them to be placed into for a time and cost effective alternative to photoshoots .

It really is as simple as that. We always make sure you’re involved in the whole process and our door is always open. Why not check out some of our previous work here . Come and meet us (or Skype if you’re too far away), send us your fabrics and that’s it! You’ll have your perfect 3D assets in no time at all. What are you waiting for?


Why IKEA is Thriving in the “Retail Graveyard”

This Swedish powerhouse really needs no introduction, with genius branding and advertising, they know exactly who they are, and so does the rest of the world. It was the brainchild of 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad in 1943 but has been named on Forbes’ World’s Most Valuable Brand list in May 2019. So how is this flat-pack furniture brand still ruling the retail industry and staying so relevant? The secret is staying ahead of the market in not only trends, but technology. Every furniture seller should be taking a leaf out of their infamous catalogue to share some of the success. And here’s how.

 

In April 2018, the retail giant realised that it was facing a problem: it hadn’t been keeping up with the digital world and this sparked a shift in their business development strategy. Although IKEA has been ahead of other furniture companies, technology had been globally advancing, leaving many retailers behind. They started by investing in “personalisation at scale” allowing it to send precisely-targeted communications to people based on what they are doing online. “When people buy a bed, they actually spend two weeks researching online. There is a lot of information that we gather so that we can actually be relevant to the person wanting to buy a bed in those two weeks”. -  Barbara Martin Coppola, IKEA’s Chief Digital Officer, talking to CNBC.

 

The key to this strategy shift was the incorporation of CGI on a large scale. The Swedish furniture company has been aggressively ramping up its use of computer generated imagery in their catalogues, starting in 2006 with their first CGI photo of a Bertil pinewood chair. By 2012, the Wall Street Journel reported that 25% of their products were computer generated. And with its rapid globalisation, with products reaching multiple cultures CGI and 3D rendering is invaluable.

 

The newest addition to IKEA’s futureproof strategy is the Place app. Allowing customers to place IKEA furniture into their own home, digitally, before purchase. It automatically scales products – based on room dimensions – with 98 per cent accuracy. Customers can see the texture of the fabric, as well as how light and shadows are rendered on furnishings.

 

The secret to IKEA’s success? Always being one step ahead. Especially in technology. With retail ever struggling, a business strategy that constantly stays ahead of technology and is digitally driven will drive sales and success. And what is the first step to the forefront? 3D rendering and digital marketing. It all started with the humble furniture visualisation. Once a company’s products are rendered, it opens a world of possibilities that are then ready-made.

 

To talk about how your products can be digitalised, get in touch with us today.


An Honest Consumer: Why Good CGI Will Make Me Buy Your Product

Taking my Orbital hat off just for a moment, I would like to tell you the story of a consumer (spoiler: it’s me). It is easy to forget our own consumer story when we are emerged in our own company strategy, but isn’t that who all manufacturers and retailers are targeting? So, let’s take a look at why CGI on an e-commerce website is so important in my consumer driven situation in 2019.

 

I have just bought my first property (somehow, I managed to get on that ladder). And while it took me eight long months to finally get the keys, and a month’s worth of living in said property, it is still standing empty of furniture. As you can probably tell by these stats, I am a very fussy (indecisive) buyer when it comes to commitment heavy purchases. However, I finally have a bed frame and two gorgeous dark green velvet sofas arriving in a week’s time, and I want to take you through my buying process and why, unknowingly, CGI is so incredibly important for taking out hesitation time and allowing me, like many others, to commit to a big purchase.

 

As a 2019 shopper the first place I went, along with the majority, is online. I was convinced that I would not be buying a large piece of furniture without seeing it in a showroom, sitting on it, feeling the fabric, seeing the true colour, all these things that play on a seller’s mind when targeting their consumers. But that all changed quite quickly when I saw a small number of well-made websites with great 3D renders. You see, it’s not all about replacing photoshoots, but making a consumer’s online experience bespoke. Alas, I ended up buying two large sofas online without seeing them in person, and 4 weeks on, I have no regrets.

 

I found myself clicking away from any website that either didn’t allow me to wrap my chosen product in the fabric I wanted, or if it did, and the render wasn’t convincing, I left said sites immediately, not being able to visualise true colour or texture that I may be blindly ordering. I would find a sofa online, travel to a showroom, and either find that the sofa wasn’t available to view in the fabric I wanted, or wasn’t available to view at all. Getting exhausted with this process that always ended up in failure, I solely used websites that let me see a virtual but realistic render of the product that would end up on my doorstep, and crucially, allowing me to wrap my chosen product in a realistic render of my fabric, which is difficult to find, when you’re looking at velvet!

 

What really amazed and surprised me is how quickly I exited the sites of, even well-trusted retailers and manufacturers, those which didn’t have this service. Even if it looked like my sofa of dreams, there was no way I could commit. It made me realise the importance of what we do at Orbital. I am usually amazed by the magic of the graphics team, how they can create something digital which is indistinguishable from photoshoots, but as a consumer was where I truly realised the change in sales that we are creating for companies who work with us. It is revolutionising, and a much-needed solution to a great risk-immersed industry in a world of online sales.

 

If you want to the difference Orbital’s Swatch Selector can make to your online sales, get in touch with us today for a chat.


Furniture News cameo written by Paul Farley, Editor-in-Chief

This month, Orbital Vision have made a three page cameo in Furniture News Magazine. A great write up courtesy of Paul Farley, Editor-in-Chief, explaining what we have been up to since our pledge at the January Furniture Show. Read the original article here

 

For those of you who missed it, Orbital pledged to create this years five winners of The Furniture Awards - Sealy UK, Weimann, Hartman UK, Parker knoll and ALF Uno - star products rendered in all it's photorealistic glory, using specialist 3D software. Furniture News checked in to see how the project was coming along...

 

We collected all reference imagery and photographed the measurements of the products in person. Using that imagery we then build the furniture in 3Ds Max.  Devil is in the detail and therefore the building stage is probably the most time consuming. We spent a lot of time ensuring that every piece of detail is spot on, including all the little imperfections that which make all the different to to a build looking real or fake.

 

Once the five builds were completed, the winners received a white-out of their product so they could sign off the overall shapes. We didn't apply any fabrics or materials at this point purely so they can focus on the shape.

 

Once they were happy, it was time to get down to mapping. This consists of setting up the product so fabric can be applied and where it sits on the Fram. It's a little bit like a digital jigsaw for simpler terms. Next, we look closely at the fabric - in order for us to get the best results, we treat fabrics as a separate part of the process and how we build the fabrics is all dependent on the type we're dealing with. From simple cottons, to fabrics with multiple layers and weaves to velvets.

With the products built and mapped, this can be rendered out in every different fabric option, at any cameo angle (including 360s). For most, the next step is to situate their product in a room-set.Like any photoshoot, we start by putting together a mood-board of the what look we want to achieve, and which accessories to use and colour scheme to go with. From here we build everything from the ground up, unique to the winners. A benefit of this is that the room-set is the free to use over and over again for upcoming projects, just by changing the colours and accessories, walls and floors to make it look like an entirely new room!

 

Reaching the final stage of the process, this is where things really come to life. With our super high-tech rendering machines, we can render out any model in any fabric range of different colours and even at any angle all with the click of a button. Everything is rendered in high resolution, so can be used in print, PoS, online and social media marketing.

 

Working with this years award winners has been so diverse for Team Orbital. From creating all the different types of furniture to also introducing our 3D services and showing the alternative to a traditional photoshoot.


The Secret of High-Profile Retailers Driving Sales Using Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in 2019

These are doubtless challenging times for brick-and-mortar retailers who prove slow to incorporate new technologies in their operations. But disruption also means opportunity for those who embrace innovation and are willing to reinvent themselves in the digital age, and immersive technologies are becoming an increasingly big part of that picture.

 

According to a number of studies, e-commerce is expected to be the number one sector for AR technologies. Smart retailers are looking to visualisation tools like 3D products, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality as a way to show off more products in less space reducing the need for square footage.

 

Amazon, IKEA, and Wayfair are all using these technologies to bring together the advantages of online shopping with brick and mortar retailing to add value to real-world shopping experiences with a minimal learning curve for both employees and customers. In the U.S, Macy’s has introduced a Virtual Reality furniture experience allowing people to design their own living spaces, populating it with items from Macy’s extensive catalogue of products, using a VR headset to then walk around these spaces in Virtual Reality.

 

Ikea is one retailer that shows how the combination of physical and digital space can be used successfully by providing VR as an on-site service in strategic places where it makes sense to do so, such as helping shoppers build their kitchen with a specialist and visualize it in an immersive way. In parallel they also offer AR capabilities to let customers see how items look in their own home environment with the Ikea Place mobile app.

 

The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, has also embraced immersive technology in a wide variety of ways. They have actively explored the use of Mixed Reality technology to streamline its warehouse operations and recently integrated an AR functionality into their official app to help customers price check items quickly in store. Walmart’s most ambitious VR rollout to date, however, has been in staff training. They are scaling up their use of VR training program on the Oculus Go in a bid to offer access to such training to every one of its U.S. based employees.

 

The opportunities that will soon be widely available with the availability of AR and VR, especially once 5G becomes widely accessible are endless. If established retailers are able to use immersive technology to energize customers and give them reasons to not only visit their stores, but make more purchases and fewer returns, this could prove a game changer for struggling high streets and provide a much-needed boost for the economy. Successful retailers need to always be at the forefront of technology so as not to be left behind, VR and AR are very much on the rise.


9 Ways to Boost Online Sales

In 2019, for any business, your main sales and marketing tool should be your website. If your business doesn’t have a clear, modern, visually pleasing and easy to navigate site, your sales will undoubtedly suffer the consequences.

 

One of the main objectives of an eCommerce website is to convert users to customers. If users have a positive, simple experience on your site, it will keep them coming back. And if you don’t have the technical know-how, or you are lacking a tech team, the biggest tip of all would be to hire a team of experts who can implement these steps for you. Your profit growth will thank you for it. To make sure you have the optimum website to increase your sales, follow the 9 tips below.

Declutter Your Website

A simple, clean website design not only provides a better user experience, it also leads to higher conversion rates. According to Google, as the number of elements on a page (images, text, titles, etc.) rises from 400 to 6,000, the probability of conversion drops 95%.

Stop the Buffer

If your site is slow to load, you may be losing conversions simply because visitors get tired of waiting a few extra seconds. To improve your website load times, streamline page content, compress large images, and make sure to use a high-quality website hosting company.

Build Trust

People are more likely to do business with companies they trust, so make sure your website projects a professional, trustworthy image. To show visitors your site is safe and your business is legitimate, make sure you advertise your safety certificate and include customer testimonials on your site. Make sure you’re effectively managing your online reputation.

Be Mobile Friendly

As more and more people use their smartphones to browse and buy, making sure your site provides a good experience for mobile users is crucial to improving your conversion rates. Your site should be responsive, with a mobile-friendly layout, simplified forms, and easily clickable callouts and buttons.

Use High Quality Images

People respond to images, and having quality images on your site draws interest and creates an emotional response. A positive, professional-looking image that makes your site visitors feel good is a great way to get them to take action. If you have an e-commerce store, use multiple product images showing different angles and key details to boost conversion rates.

Create Custom Landing Pages

If you use PPC or social media ads, don’t include links that send people to your home page. If they’re interested enough to click, they want to learn more about that specific product or service, not wander around lost on your website trying to find the information they want. To increase conversions, create a unique landing page for each campaign, with a streamlined design and a single clear call to action.

Offer Simple Online Customer Service

If a potential customer runs into problems or has a question, they need to know how to get the issue resolved quickly—if you make them wait or don’t give them an easy way to find help, they’re likely to leave your site. Most people now look for a live chat, it means no waiting in a phone queue, no waiting days for an email response. Make sure you are catering for customers’ needs in the easiest way possible.

Include Site Search

Your website navigation should make it easy for site visitors to find what they’re looking for, but in case it doesn’t, or for people who want an immediate answer to a very specific question, including a site search feature on your website can keep people from leaving your site to look for the answer elsewhere. You only have a few short seconds to catch the interest of a visitor, don’t make them work hard to find what they’re looking for, or they will just click that back button.

Have Clear Call to Actions

Site visitors are much more likely to become customers if you clearly show them the action you want them to take. Create compelling calls to action on your site to prompt visitors to take the next step toward conversion, whether that’s signing up for an email newsletter, ordering a brochure or making a purchase.

If you need someone to take a look at your website to increase your online sales, get in touch with us at Orbital today. We can take the hassle out of tech, we'll let you sit back and see the results.


Why is 5G about to revolutionise the furniture industry, and what your business can do to prepare

We are about to enter a technological revolution with the introduction of 5G, but what does this mean for retail and the furniture industry, and how can your business prepare?

The introduction of 5G becoming available as standard in 2020 means there will be a huge shift in what is available, and the speed and power of internet compared to what we understand as normal with 4G. There have been announcements that full length feature films will be downloadable in just 10 seconds with the power of 5G, and we will notice that anything online will be instantaneous, with no lag, no buffering and is claimed to be four times faster than 4G connections. But we should be looking at the wider picture. Yes, it will make browsing and streaming video, or gameplay quicker, but the spectrum of opportunity provided for retail is still untapped with what will become available with 5G for companies who are planning ahead.

 

Imagine that your company’s app will allow a consumer to walk into a shop and be guided in real time, by augmented reality, to the exact location of their desired item. How about they walk through a virtual store to make purchases? 5G will even allow AI (Artificial Intelligence) to run smoothly, allowing for your app or website to create a personal assistant to suggest products and fabrics to the visitor based on their recent searches or preferences instantaneously. The introduction of 5G means these virtual and augmented experiences can take place on a simple handset, and at scale, something that is hard to achieve on today’s 4G networks. The first step towards daunting ideas like VR and AR is 3D rendering. Online furniture shops that don’t have the option for consumers to see a 360 view of a product, and see the piece covered in their fabric of choice, are already being left behind by the bigger players.

 

Artificial intelligence tools, such as chatbots or virtual personal assistants are already being used by innovative retailers to improve their customer service. H&M’s Kik chatbot, for example, makes apparel suggestions based on the consumer’s preferences. Shoppers are presented with images of various different outfits, including questions about their style type for to suggest items which can be purchased or saved for later. When it comes to the furniture industry, we already know that furniture is already seen as the biggest risk item when buying online. If you haven’t already, have a read of why Virtual Reality will soon be the only way to buy furniture online . The way this technology will be supported on scale, is through 5G and we are about to see a massive shift in online furniture sales technology.

 

History has proved that businesses who take that first leap into tech-forward advances tend to reap the most rewards. Not only does it put you at the forefront of digital movements, but the publicity surrounding the introduction of new retail processes is priceless. People were recently stunned by Swedish furniture giant, IKEA, as they have moved ahead of the crowd already, launching an online virtual reality store in Australia. They are now allowing users to browse through a wider variety of furnishing products at home either through their smartphone (mobile VR headset) or desktop, mimicking the instore experience. This is the future of furniture sales, and the not so distant future at that.

 

If you want to learn more about how to maximise the impact 5G can have on your sales by digitally preparing your website, apps and strategy, get in touch with us at Orbital today.