Photographic room visualization tools ease flooring selection, specification processes
By Reginald Tucker
If you’re not incorporating photographic visualization, virtual and augmented reality in your marketing, prospecting and lead-generation initiatives, then you’re missing out on potential sales opportunities and literally leaving money on the table. That’s according to the folks at Chameleon Power, a software company specializing in proprietary tools designed to help manufacturers, distributors, retailers and contractors deliver online and in-store/in-home presentations for their respective clients.
“Our core space is photographic visualization that lets users alter a photograph online while maintaining the photographic integrity of the original image,” said Dan Dempsey, Chameleon Power president and CEO. “Whether it’s for specification purposes or online and in-store selling, our technology moves the buyer down the path toward purchase.”
How it works: Chameleon Power dynamic visualization solutions provide real- time rendering of outcomes during usage. (Users may select from stock room scenes or upload their own rooms for instant viewing and selection of flooring products.) A website visitor or mobile app user can make instant changes of flooring and complementary surfacing to help with decorating decisions.
Chameleon tools are deployed as website solutions, in-store kiosks and mobile apps, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) solutions as well as product design and simulation technologies. Chameleon complements its tools with a suite of rendering, product photography, color correction, product simulation and print services. “We morph ourselves into whatever our clients need to help them embrace our software tools,” Dempsey said.
What’s more, Chameleon Power’s technology is flexible in that it can be applied toward various uses depending on the end-user channel. Online merchants, flooring retailers, homebuilders, designers, architects and many other channels servicing the end-user can implement Chameleon tools and services. For example, flooring dealers utilizing online tools, in-store kiosks, AR and VR tools can help their customers with colors, patterns and textures as they move to close the sale.
“That’s one of our key differentiators,” Dempsey stated. “Chameleon can ensure continuity from 2D to 3D, VR, AR, product simulation and beyond, which provides a more fluid set of tools and creates efficiencies and cost-savings for the suppliers.”
While Chameleon Power is by no means a newcomer in its field (it has been around for 20 years), the company has accelerated its product development in the 3D/virtual reality/augmented reality areas over the past several years. Many innovations from Chameleon spawn from client needs, including technologies for “blending,” which, according to Dempsey lets users to create unique mosaic combinations of tile and stone configurations.
Chameleon also creates simulation and print services to accommodate carpet manufacturers looking for more cost-effective, photo-accurate sampling solutions. “We have two color experts on our staff, including a color scientist who is our vice president of R&D, and our engines are developed based on our color science expertise,” Dempsey stated. “Chameleon color tools help with product decisions and specifications, and we also help suppliers evolve their color palettes. In fact, the world’s largest paint and fabric companies use us to manage and enhance their product palettes.”
Today, Chameleon covers the gamut of visualization platforms, offering many different types of tools that all spawn from its original visualization engines.
Chameleon Power has also ramped up other aspects of its business, namely the Render Services category. The company employs more than 30 graphic design professionals who provide assistance for a range of commercial and residential clients. “A leading commercial flooring client works with us to specify products in projects all over the globe,” Dempsey stated. “They have 400 salespeople that we interact with daily to create outcomes with their products in a theme or a 2-D drawing of the floor plan or 3-D rendering. We send back the project typically within the same day and help them close deals. Our graphics team even helps with flooring designs since they are graphically trained professionals. We also have render farms that do nothing but churn out volumes of vignettes based on numbers of products and scenes.”
Dempsey rolled off a litany of projects for clients such as Arizona Tile, Armstrong Flooring, Emser Tile, Shaw, Milliken and Ply Gem, to name a few—each with their own needs and requirements. Arizona Tile, is a case in point. Over the course of the past five-plus years, the supplier worked with Chameleon Power on three different site projects—a standard visualization site, where customers can view the company’s products in various residential and commercial settings, as well as two customized portals specifically developed for Arizona Tile’s needs.
“In each case, Chameleon was able to accommodate very specific, custom requests we had and accomplish what we wanted to achieve,” said Adria Harrison, director of marketing. “All three sites are core components to our marketing strategy.”
Emser Tile is another satisfied customer. The manufacturer credits Chameleon Power with the creation of the room visualizer built into its website. “Chameleon has demonstrated a commitment over the years to be on the cutting edge of visualization tools, including the utilization of VR in their offerings,” said Bob Baldocchi, chief marketing officer and vice president of business development. “We believe customers’ expectations to visualize their selections with quality imaging in real time is increasing, and Chameleon is helping Emser Tile to meet these expectations.”
Upside for dealers
Chameleon’s manufacturer clients are not the only ones who stand to benefit from the suite of products offered. Floor covering retailers—those on the front line with consumers—have something to gain as well. According to Chameleon, sites that deploy its tools see user site times increase threefold. But the benefits don’t end there. “We’ve learned if someone actually gets to the point of saving a virtual room scene or project they’re working with, they will end up buying that product more than 75% of the time,” Dempsey explained. “It’s a fantastic lead generator—the best sales guide RSAs are going to ever deploy.”
Some of the big names on the retail client side of Chameleon’s business include the likes of Abbey Carpet & Floor, Carpet One, Empire Today, Floor & Décor and Rite Rug. The company also has distributors and interior designers that use its products regularly. “We offer a customer-facing technology, designed for someone who’s thinking about flooring and is now trying to decide where she’s going to buy it and which product she’s going to use,” Dempsey explained. “Providing technology at the website level ensures the customer is committed when they walk into the store. Having a website version that is also accessible on a kiosk at the store connects the dots between online and retail.”
Statistics and anecdotal data compiled by Chameleon Power show close rates and usages rates are significantly higher with a visualizer than without it. What’s more, the rate of return on investment in Chameleon systems is fairly quick. As Dempsey explained: “We have dealers that come in at $2,500 to start to use the tool, so one to two sales will pay for it. And we have some dealers that spend $50,000. It’s all based on complexity, product ranges, geographic scope, others.”
Regardless of a particular retailer’s size or market, Chameleon Power believes virtual marketing is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity. “This used to be a premium tool that only the companies with the biggest budgets employed,” Dempsey stated. “It was a differentiator back then; today it is a standard technology. Consumers who begin their research online expect retailers to offer it.”