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Startup Grabs $20 Million to Get Photorealistic Digital Images on Your Website

As e-commerce grows, so, too, does the demand for high-quality product images that tempt shoppers to buy online.

Production visualization software platform Threekit grabbed $20 million in series A funding led by Shasta Ventures, with participation from Salesforce Ventures, former San Francisco 49ers Hall of Famer Steve Young, Marketo co-founder Phil Fernandez, and serial SaaS entrepreneur Godard Abel.

Chicago-based Threekit aims to make light work of the heavy lifting involved with cranking out tons of high-res product shots that highlight all of the best features of a retailer’s goods. The startup claims customers, including Tailored Brands, have seen conversions climb as much as 40 percent, returns plunge 80 percent and marketing costs drop 90 percent relative to traditional product photography.

The company—which was founded in 2005 by visual effects guru and CTO Ben Houston, who contributed to the Star Wars and Harry Potter films—claims the typical digital consumer expects to review an average of eight product shots for each item when browsing and buying online—indicating the pressure retailers face to deliver on changing customer expectations. That’s a steep increase from the three images shoppers expected to see in 2016, and now digitally savvy spenders want to pinch, spin and zoom in on details in 3D as well.

To generate rich digital images, Threekit users upload product information along with design files to build “unlimited numbers of interactive, augmented reality and photorealistic 3D visuals for any product’s many material, color, and configuration options,” the company said. Crate & Barrel, a Threekit client, created more than 1 million images detailing all the myriad configuration options for its range of modern sofas, so customers wouldn’t have to guesstimate about how the final product would look.

The trend toward product customization is driving the need for solutions like Threekit, which can give shoppers the comfort level they need to transact online versus making a trip to the store. Because e-commerce can’t replicate the touch-and-feel aspect of in-store shopping, “interactive product visuals are critical, especially for highly configurable and sophisticated products,” said Threekit president Joachim Klein, noting that the company will leverage the new funding to scale its marketing and sales functions and continue building out the product suite.

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“Commercial photography falls far short of online buyer expectations, and current e-commerce experiences don’t capture how consumers engage with product listing before buying,” Klein added. “Threekit overcomes these challenges by enabling incredible virtual product experiences.”

Shasta Ventures partner Jacob Mullins believes Threekit’s technology “is poised to fundamentally change the way retailers and brands create and manage visual content.”

And now that Threekit has integrated with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, users are able to embed their interactive 3D images directly into their e-commerce sites, “providing customers with unparalleled immersive commerce experiences,” Matt Garratt, managing partner at Salesforce Ventures, added.