The vast majority of e-commerce customers prefer to preview the product before purchasing. This is why the likes of Amazon have historically struggled to move fashion and home décor items online. A startup based in San Francisco and Bengaluru is trying to solve this problem and has just raised a new funding round to expand its operations.
Artificial intelligence and computer startup Avataar said Friday it has raised $45 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Tiger Global, and current investor Sequoia Capital India participated. The six-year-old startup has raised about $55.5 million, including some with founder and CEO funding in the early years, across all funding rounds.
Avataar helps brands and consumer e-commerce marketplaces shape their consumer journeys through 3D rendering of products. Companies can integrate Avataar’s plug-and-play technology into their system, which then allows customers to visualize products in their true size and Feel In their living room using a phone camera.
Sravanth Aluro, founder and CEO of Avataar, said in an interview with TechCrunch that the startup is currently working with a number of companies including the two largest e-commerce markets across furniture, large appliances and other categories. He refused to reveal the clients’ names, citing confidentiality agreements. (Some companies such as Samsung and Pepperfry have publicly acknowledged the collaboration with Avataar.)
In a demo, Aluru dragged and dropped various products — sofas and desks — into his living room from a partner e-commerce market app and changed the color and SKUs without having to put back the virtual items in the house. Items can also be interactive. The refrigerator’s default width allows users to open and close the door, for example.
Brands don’t need to make any major changes to be able to adapt Avataar’s offerings. Aluru said that as long as the product images are at least 1080p, Avataar can put together a virtual and 3D version of them. For consumers, too, if they’re using an iPhone or an Android smartphone launched in recent years, there’s a good chance their phone will have the computational and graphic capability to support viewing and interaction with virtual objects, he said.
“Because the camera is the main screen, you see significantly higher engagement time, and brands see more than 3.5 times the sales conversion,” he said. The startup passes sharing information to partner brands who then personalize their offerings to better serve customers.
Aluru said an increasing number of companies are starting to adapt the technology as they realize the benefits it can provide. This trend is only expected to grow from here.
Without revealing the brand names, he said that some smartphone companies have used Avataar technology to conduct virtual launches. “Today we are integrated across most platforms. If you’re seeing 3D on a high-volume service, it’s probably supported by us,” he said.
By 2025, nearly 75% of the world’s population and nearly all people who use social media apps will be frequent AR users, Snap said in a recent report, for which it collaborated with Deloitte. There are already more than 100 million customers shopping using augmented reality, the report said.
Aluru said the startup is poised to be at the forefront as the metaverse makes progress and is partnering with many of the major players in the space.
“metaverse is already here, just not evenly distributed. Avataar.me is leading the way in providing scale creation capabilities to the biggest brands to enable commerce – an app that holds tremendous promise in AR environments,” said Shailesh Lakhani, managing director at Sequoia India, in a statement. / VR.
“Sravanth, Gaurav and Mayank have had the pleasure of working with Sequoia Capital India and are excited to reaffirm their commitment to Round B.”
The digital and digitally impacted market is expected to grow to $18 trillion by 2025, providing a monetization opportunity of more than $50 billion over the next decade for the core platforms driving the 2D-to-3D commerce transformation, according to industry estimates.
“For the first time in history, we can now discover, understand, augment and manipulate the physical reality of consumers using live camera feeds. While our patented AI/CV capabilities are applicable to mass reverse evolution, we are beginning to focus up front on redefining the experiences of Consumer shopping.
“The platform will transform the shopping experience of consumers at home on their mobile devices, through augmented reality glasses / wearables, or even in a physical store exploring an endless aisle of a digitally enabled catalog.”
Evan Feinberg, partner at Tiger Global, said in a statement: “Consumers continue to search for a better e-commerce experience, and Avataar’s innovative technology provides a powerful plug-and-play solution for its customers to meet this demand. As the digital world moves from 2D to 3D, Avataar and its talented management team are well positioned in this rapidly growing market. “