Why E-Commerce Images Evolved from White Backgrounds to Next Generation Imagery – We Talk to Nfinite Founder, Alexandre de Vigan

Alexandre de Vigan, CEO of Nfinite talks exclusively to Business in the News about how E-Commerce Visuals are becoming a more immersive experience

Tell us about what inspired you to create the Nfinite platform?

The company was founded in 2017. Back then, we started the company to provide better online visual experiences for real estate, creating computer-based imagery to rent and sell apartments.

A year later, we realized there was a bigger market in e-commerce and shifted focus to increase traffic and sales. So instead of showcasing an apartment, our next-generation imagery was used for pieces of furniture.

We recognize that web and e-commerce are turning virtual, and consumers want an immersive experience, yet retailers cannot match today’s e-merchandising needs. E-merchandising is broken, and retailers need a solution to match e-commerce merchandising needs. E-merchandising struggles with a legacy content stack that hampers the creation of high-quality, flexible imagery and truly immersive product experiences for online consumers.

This inspired us to develop an end-to-end one-stop solution for instantly creating, displaying, and managing unlimited product visuals. Over the last couple of years, we have scaled the Nfinite platform through different industries and officially launched the Nfinite Platform in 2022.

When was the business first established, and tell us how you grew from there to where you are today?

The company was founded in France in 2017 – half of our R&D and marketplace is in France, and now many of our go-to-market operations are in the US. In 2021, the company didn’t have any customers in the US, and now the region accounts for 60% of our revenue.

The company’s employee base doubled in the past year, and we recently closed a $100M funding Series B funding round.  We are delivering hundreds of thousands of images and hope to grow that into the millions in the next few years.

E-commerce years ago was ‘take a pic, cut it out, stick it on a white background, and you’re in business. Why doesn’t this work anymore?

E-commerce is growing at unprecedented rates, and the competition to win buyers online is higher than ever. Consumers have many options and typically buy from brands they trust and who provide great digital experiences.

Retailers have access to more technology than ever to optimize pricing, A/B test product page layouts and messaging, and otherwise drive higher conversion rates across their websites.

But historically, creating high-quality images has been the domain of creative teams who do incredible work but are limited by the output of physical photoshoots, which are time-consuming, expensive, and produce static images which are difficult to change.

Our SaaS-based visual e-merchandising platform uses advanced CGI to create photorealistic images and then surfaces those images via an easy-to-use online tool that enables retailers to create, style, change, test, and personalize the images they show their customers to create the best possible online experience.

How does the platform overcome challenges, like site speed, when loading 3D images?

Nfinite empowers merchants and retailers to easily create and edit photorealistic visuals of their own products by translating 3D models into highly flexible and malleable 2D assets that can be moved, manipulated, or edited within a few clicks.

The Nfinite Platform is quite revolutionary because while everything at Nfinite starts with a 3D model, the platform uses a 2D “digital twin” of the 3D model to produce images that the end user can move, manipulate, and put into scenes with a few clicks of a button.

We have thousands of prebuilt templates and props to build all the imagery retailers need across their websites, social, email campaigns, mobile apps, print, out-of-home, augmented reality, and more.

Your research found that demand is growing for next-generation e-commerce, with clients wanting more interactive visuals before buying. What do you think is driving this trend?

The biggest trend we see in e-commerce is personalization. Today’s leading internet companies personalize everything you see because it almost always increases whatever metric the company tries to drive with their consumers.

The other trend is that the internet is more visual today than ever, and it will only get more visual.

A talk by Google’s SVP of Search and Ads shared that according to Google’s internal research, almost 40% of users aged 18-25 start their online searches on visual platforms like Instagram and TikTok rather than Google. Rather than Googling something (whether it’s a restaurant review, a product to buy, how to fix an appliance, etc.) they go to Instagram to look for visual content rather than written content from Google. This should be a wake-up call for everyone selling or communicating online – the new generation wants visual content.

As another example, look at the evolution of Amazon’s homepage from 2003 to 2010 to today- it’s getting more and more image-based rather than text-based.

Which market sectors do you feel are most likely to benefit from investing in next-generation images and video on their e-Commerce platform?

The path to success for retailers across all categories, including home & living, apparel, consumer electronics, and luxury goods, depends almost entirely on the ability to deploy radical, groundbreaking technology that can wow consumers and keep them coming back.

That’s exactly what CGI and 3D visualization delivers because it creates immersive e-commerce experiences.

The next revolution in e-commerce is all about putting the shopper at the center of the experience. It enables people to shop for and purchase products in entirely new ways.

Going forward, 3D product images will be the key to providing truly mind-blowing consumer experiences. In fact, in independent research commissioned by Nfinite, 52% of retailers plan to invest in next-generation product imagery.

Looking to the future, what do you see the future bringing for e-Commerce?

The one-size-fits-all approach to product visuals no longer works. And yet many retailers continue to use nothing more than static photographs on their sites, which fail to create an engaging visual experience.

The reality is that classic product photography is an outdated and ineffective format. It’s the Sears catalog of online selling. It’s also expensive. Once you shoot a product, the only way to modify or update the visual is to reshoot.

It’s time for retailers to bid farewell to traditional photography and enter the digital age. By embracing next-gen technologies like computer-generated imagery (CGI) and 3D visualization, retailers can deliver next-level product visuals.

Visuals that are highly immersive and make it easy for shoppers to see products from different angles and often in a real-life context. Shoppers can look at products in various situations and, in some instances, Augmented Reality and see exactly how those products will fit into their lives.

With CGI and 3D visualization, companies can customize and modify product images. People aren’t all the same, and your product images shouldn’t be either.

You can A/B test which visuals engage customers the best and easily adjust color, style, and products in visuals to trigger more purchases.