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Marxent CEO: 3D is becoming central to all things retail

Margie Manning

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Marxent uses 3D design and virtual reality to allow shoppers to design entire rooms before they buy furniture and decor.

A partnership with La-Z-Boy demonstrates what Beck Besecker, CEO of Marxent, has been saying for years. Seeing a product in three dimensions is a vital part of retail sales.

La-Z-Boy, a furniture manufacturer, is using the full suite of augmented reality and virtual reality developed by St. Petersburg-based Marxent, including using the technology in some of its stores.

Beck Besecker, CEO of Marxent, speaking on CNBC

“It’s proving our point which is 3D will be everywhere,” Besecker said in an interview with the St. Pete Catalyst. “This is the best story we’ve seen so far, where people are starting to think about 3D as not just a tool, but central to all things retail.”

Marxent also works with Macy’s and more than a dozen other brand-name furniture and kitchen cabinet retailers, and has found that 3D tools lead to higher sales and fewer returns. That’s because furniture and kitchen cabinets are big-dollar purchases, and buyers don’t want to make mistakes, such as getting a product home and finding it doesn’t fit in the space or doesn’t match the décor.

“Our products are like a confidence building tool,” Besecker said. “The visualization tools help customer get over their concerns and complete the purchase. What we see across all our clients is the average order value is about 40 percent higher, and returns are down by 25 percent.”

Full portfolio

La-Z-Boy believes customers should get exactly what they envision, said Eli Winkler, chief marketing officer.

“3D is woven throughout the La-Z-Boy customer experience, both online and in-store,” Winkler said in a news release. “When we saw that 3D was becoming central to our customer experience, we knew it made sense to build all of our 3D experiences off of a single platform.”

La-Z-Boy is using Marxent’s full portfolio, Besecker said.

“They started with a webroom planner for their designers and customers. Then they added 3D product configurators to configure your own product online with different finishes, different wood and different material. Then they did an augmented reality application to test drive products inside your own house. Then they did an iPad application, where the sales associates can use the iPad as a room planning tool with customers as well as designers. They just added four stores in virtual reality,” Besecker said.

The 3D marketplace is just starting to emerge, with many more opportunities ahead, including advertising and Google search results, he said.

“If you search Google images today, you see photos of products,” he said. “What’s going to happen is 2D will still be there, but if something is available in 3D, search will start serving up 3D at a higher priority than 2D. You tap on it and you can look at the object in your room immediately.”

Market opportunity

While Marxent has made inroads with name-brand retailers, it’s still only captured 2 percent of the total market, Besecker said.

“There’s a $100 billion U.S. furniture market, a $100 billion international furniture market and probably the same with DIY [do-it-yourself] companies and kitchen and bath. There’s half a trillion dollars in home goods sales we can use our tools against,” Besecker said.

While he expects to stay in the home space for now, Marxent eventually could look at using its technology for medical or industrial uses, he said.

There is some competition, but Marxent is well financed and operating at pace. He said the company, founded in 2011, is just a couple of months away from becoming profitable, moving out of the startup phase into growth phase.

The company has raised nearly $14 million in venture capital funding. It has about 20 employees at its office in downtown St. Petersburg, and about 50 workers at an office in the Dayton area.

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