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Product Customization Apps for Shopify

Product customizers are software applications for Shopify which allow for customization

What is a Product Customizer?

Product customizers are software applications which enable you to add product customization abilities to products on an eCommerce website.

Other names for them include Custom Product Builders or Custom Product Options or Custom Product Designers. However, all these apps vary considerably in terms of their functionality and power.

The simplest apps may simply allow you to add additional drop-down product option text fields to your product page. Others will go further, enabling image overlays, dynamic visual configuration and even 3D functionality!

Some website admins will investigate custom code changes to the core theme files of the website. This page will talk about the types of third-party apps you can use on Shopify to add this customization ability to the website instead.

Customization vs Personalization

The difference between between product personalization and product customization is subtle, but important to understand

In a nutshell, product customizers will give the user an ability to choose from a set of pre-determined selections.

Product Personalizers will instead take this one step further and give people an ability to create something unique, tailored to just them. The most common examples of personalization would be ordering a t-shirt with your name on it. For a longer explanation read this article.

Four Types of Product Customizers

There are broadly four different types of product customizer apps available on Shopify you need to be aware of.

  1. Product Options Apps
  2. Modified Product Options Apps
  3. 2D visual customizers
  4. 3D visual customizers

Let’s have a quick look at each one together with some real examples.

1 – Product Options Apps

Most people will start their journey into customization by adding a sequence of form selections or ‘product variations’ to a base product. These are called Custom Product Options Apps.

Just like their title, these apps allow you to add additional options to the base product via the addition of extra fields on the product page.

The customer fills in these fields with different information before the modified base product is added to the cart.

The downside with product options apps is that the product page can start to look clunky and they often don’t come with conditional logic (if this, then that).

What ends up happening is the customer is confronted with a whole series of fields running down the page which can distract or confuse the user. The customer also can’t visualize the final product prior to checkout, so they won’t be as confident about the purchase in that final moment.

These apps rarely integrate downstream into inventory, design, ordering and fulfillment processes. Typically a lot of manual, back and forth communication between all the parties is required which absorbs business resources, ultimately making this an unprofitable endeavour.

2 – Modified Product Options Apps

We’ve seen a lot of store owners fiddle around with various product options apps before they realize the app doesn’t do something that is critical to the process. In these cases they will either upgrade to more advanced customizers or go deep into the rabbit hole that is custom coded website development. This work involves modifying the theme and template code of the website’s content management system (CMS). These modifications can be costly, messy, time consuming and a nightmare for maintenance. They’ll require constant upkeep with every core update.

Here’s an example of a merchant who has gone down the custom route which involved taking pictures of every single product selection combination – there were many (see below). When the drop down menus are used, there is code which changes the product image to the correct on from the thumbnail list. This is not dynamic product visualization and requires you need to shoot, edit and upload a lot of pictures. Also the image area dragged a very far way down the page, making the page layout look a bit cluttered.

Technically, both 1 and 2 are not true customization apps. They are a more advanced version of a detailed product variant, but they may do the job for a lot of small volume eCommerce merchants..

 

3 – 2D Product Customizers

Customization in 2D is the most popular options. 2D product customizers essentially allow you to layer visuals on top of the default background product images you’ve already set in Shopify’s back-end. For example, if the customer enters their name into a text field, this text will be shown via an overlay function on top of the product in the background. 

These are popular apps which can power 2D customization for simple or flat products where a 3D visualization may be less essential. T-shirts, posters, books, monogramming of wallets etc.

However, if the product’s shape is complex, unfamilar, high cost or tactile, this solution will not be as suitable. The final image can look distorted and unappealing, giving off the wrong vibe to the customer.

There will be issues with the text not wrapping around the sides of curved surfaces well or insufficient blending of the layers which gives it an unrealistic ‘pasted’ look and feel.

4 – 3D Product Customizers

 

The most advanced product customization apps are the 3D customizers. This allows users to configure the product in a live 3D environment and see exactly what the product will look before they buy it. It’s powerful because this significantly reduces any perceptions of risk that may exist prior to purchase.

This software is sometimes called “3D product configurators” or “visual configuration software”. These powerful platforms may even allow you to add a scene or context around the 3D product model. Some also allow for parts of the customization process to trigger animations so the product comes to life as you step through sequence. This provides a much richer brand experience and exudes a premium quality feel as well as emulating what may occur in a real life retail situation.

Traditionally, complex products may have been restricted to physical locations for this customization process to occur (think a tailor or cobbler, or heavy machinery). But with this configuration technology they can take advantage of the eCommerce market without the customer and sales person needing to be physically present. Bricks and mortar store owners can almost virtualize their entire retail experience and bring it online.

Again, 3D customization apps are not all created equal. The way the different layers of customization blend into the base 3D model varies considerably.

Featured in this image is an example of our 3D product customizer app in use on the Hand Dyed Shoe Company’s Shopify website. Watch the video below for more insight.

Don’t Forget Downstream

One of the biggest barriers to merchants adopting customization or personalization is the ordering, manufacturing and fulfillment side of the equation.

We’ve found this process varies considerably from one merchant to the next. Each has their own processes, technology and services providers which they. So there needs to be a lot of flexibility in the back-end of the customization software you choose. Especially if you want to automate and scale your sales process.

Some retailers will modify the physical product themselves locally. Others will send a standardized product to another firm which makes the modifications. Others, will outsource the entire manufacturing of the personalized product completely.

When it comes to fulfillment, most providers are not set-up for procedures which fall outside standard processes. Customization can quickly create a lot of complexity in the fulfillment process because all of the businesses systems and other businesses they partner with may not be familiar with anything that falls outside the norm (standardized product fulfillment).

So we’ve ensured our app can integrate seamlessly into downstream production and product fulfillment processes. This might involve actions such as sending data to 3D printers, 2D printers, labeling machines, integration into ERP/WMS systems and more.

These integrations allow for true, hands-off mass personalization at scale. In fact, we have partnered with various 3PL fulfillment centers so you could even create a modification/drop-ship arrangement for your customized products.

View a live examples of the Spiff 3D Customizer App in action

It’s best to contact one of our staff and ask for a customer example that’s close to your own niche. If the video above isn’t enough, here’s a small range of 3D product models you can manipulate as you would on a live store. Visit our Shopify demo site or WordPress demo site.

Trial our 3D Product Customizer App on Shopify

Step 1 – Take advantage of the free 14 day trial. Go to the Shopify App store and download the Spiff3D Shopify Product Customizer app here.

Step 2 – Activate the app on your store and follow the installation and on-boarding instructions  Contact us if you need assistance doing this – we service all global time-zones. If you are stuck at any point, or unsure if this app meets your needs, book a live Zoom demo instead. There’s also a convenient list of all product features and API documentation at help.spiff3d.com.au

Step 3 – If you have a 3D model already, attach that file to your product. Alternatively, upload pictures of your products from all angles and we’ll quickly build a 3D model of your product. This will allow customers to manipulate your product in real-time and activate any personalisation features you wish while in a 3D environment.

Step 4 – We can assist you get the word out there and create some social media buzz like we have done for other customers. We’ll even make a live video recording of the product customisation process and send it to you to use in your content strategy

Step 5 – If you want to spread the word and be rewarded, you can apply to join our partnership program. You can also add your products to our marketplace and allow others to re-sell your products on their sites by joining the Spiff community network.