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Intro:

Welcome to the winning with Shopify podcast. This is the podcast that will teach you to take your Shopify store and turn it into an automated sales machine. It has the latest marketing email, sales, and social media advice and it also has strategies and tips from the experts without the fluff. Your host is Caroline Balinska. She’s a Shopify education partner with the Shopify approved course, 1000 sales and beyond and she’s the founder of justaskparker.com The only small marketing task agency for Shopify owners. She has an 15 years experience in marketing, manufacturing, design and eCommerce. In the podcast, she’ll share her knowledge and interview the experts to help you in your journey to success. So don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast so you never miss an episode. Now here’s your host, Caroline Balinska.

Caroline:

it’s going to be a fantastic year. I’m so excited and I have the first guest for the neuron and I think that this is a perfect time to have this guest on because that’s all about the future. We’re in 2020 and everything’s moving so quickly and this is such a great topic to talk about. If you’ve been listening to my podcast for a while, you know that I love anything to do with images and this is all about taking your images to the next level. We’re going to be talking about turning images into three D objects and also at that AR, so please listen in because it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, but this is probably something that you should be listening to. If you’re not going to be doing it in the next couple of months in your business, it’ll definitely be something that you need in the next six months or so. So get ready for the future. Before we start, here’s a quick word from our sponsor, gorgeous, who my team use every day in our business. Just ask,

Lucas:

Hey, it’s Lucas Walker from gorgeous. Are you using us for your e-commerce help desk yet? You might want to take a quick look if keeping your customers happy and profitable is something that’s important to you coming into the new year. If you visit gorgeous.link/ask Parker, that’s gorgeous. Spelled like the philosopher, G O R G I a S. dot link slash ask Parker. We’ll hook you up with your second month for free if you don’t know about gorgeous, we are the number one rated help desk on the Shopify app store and for good reason. We’re built for eCommerce right out of the gate. What does this mean, David? Like your customer’s most recent order tracking numbers and a lot of integrations are with all the major apps are pulled into your dashboard right out of the box. So visit gorgas.link/ask Parker. That’s G O R G I a s.link/ask Parker and get your second month free. Today

Caroline:

we have Sahil Gupta with us today. He is the CEO of Spase that is www.Spase.io and they are a Shopify app. They create air models, which we’ll find out more about what that’s all about us. Little bit technical, but sales very good at explaining it in a very simplified way. So he’s going to give us a lot of information today. He has worked for companies including Tesla and Microsoft and he is a graduate of computer science and economics from Yale. So it’s great to have someone very, very smart with us, but also don’t freak out because he’s also great at explaining things to ask people that are not so technical when it comes to this stuff. So let’s introduce him and say hello and find out more about what our models are. So Sahil, how are you today? Hi Caroline, great to meet you and thanks for having me on and for the wonderful intro. Wonderful look, I’m so excited about this. When you reached out to me, I went, this is fantastic and I know that everyone who listens to this podcast will be really interested in this as well. So how about we start off by you introducing yourself, telling us a little bit more about yourself and what Spase is sort of the history of it, where it all started from and why you started it. And then we’ll get into some questions about what it technically is.

Sahil:

Absolutely. So Spase started last year and it really started with Shopify. I saw Shopify was making a really big effort to make three D

Caroline:

easy and accessible

Sahil:

specifically by turning on a three D viewer for every store. And there was a problem. It was, it just really caught my eye, which is that it’s really hard to make these models or to get these models made. But the part that was obvious to me is that these models just look amazing. And it’s clearly the future of shopping because what happens is when you have a model, when your store has models of what you sell, you can bring your store into your customer’s home because when they take out their iPhone and they open up the camera and they see the three D model and augmented reality right on their desk, on their floor, they know what they’re buying and they see it. And basically it’s in real life, it’s called augmented reality. But it really is kind of, it’s real life because it’s in your Spase, it’s in your time. It’s true to color, it’s true to shape, and it’s true to size. So maybe to rewind a bit. So I started Spase after a stint at Tesla, uh, working in their, their main California factory writing software for the factory. A lot of the things I learned there as to how operations are run and how things just get done quickly.

Sahil:

Just the direct communication between really anybody as possible. That just showed me that maybe some of those techniques could be applied to solving the problem of creating high quality models in high volume. And maybe one story that, um, I’ll share from my time at Tesla is that there was a situation where, Oh, there was a crisis where we couldn’t produce enough model threes, uh, which are, they’re high volume, low cost car, and instead of sitting still and getting stuck in the moment, what the company decided to do is just to start manufacturing the cars in an open Spase in the parking lot in the back of the factory, and just continually improving that. And it turns out like we ended up meeting our goals for that quarter. Uh, so that just really showed me that really anything is first of all, if you know what you’re doing, but then if you put your mind to it.

Sahil:

So then fast forward to June of 2019 Shopify had a conference in Toronto where they made a major announcement that they’re going to support 3d media for all stores, but the problem still remains that it’s pretty hard to get these models and to get them looking good because as you can imagine, it’s very easy to find somebody on a particular freelance site and you try to pitch a project and you hope you get something good back. Maybe three or four rounds of feedback later, you end up with something that you know, you wish you never started the conversation in the first place. So I had to think about how I could design a system that could rapidly create really high quality 3d models and that’s how Spase started.

Caroline:

That is absolutely fantastic. And you’re right about Shopify when they made that announcement, Shopify invested a lot of, I guess, money as well into wanting that to launch quite quickly and they want to scale that and they actually see that as a very, very big part of Shopify in the future coming into the future. So it’s great that you jumped on board at that stage. So let’s just quickly go to what our models actually are. People are probably still a little bit confused of what is this. If anyone’s listening and they want to go to the website and you can get a visual idea at the same time, it’s Spase S P a S E. dot. IO and you can actually see it there on the homepage. So let’s get into it and if you can explain a little bit more about what our models actually are.

Sahil:

Yeah, that’s probably the top question on our lines, which is, yeah, what is an air model? It’s a word that if you Google, you really don’t get any results. Um, so what it is, it’s a word that I made for Spase that describes this particular kind of three D model that is meant for augmented reality [inaudible]. And that means that it’s lightweight, it doesn’t slow down your website and it’s photorealistic. So it’s true to colors in every sense. To dive a little deeper into that, the way the colors work and the way it reflects light is actually based on the physical properties of light using physically based rendering textures, which has a long way to say that it actually simulates what happens when you shine a light on the object, which is why you’re able to get things like shyness, metallic ness, and just an effect that looks really, really real.

Sahil:

So air models are these threeD models that are meant for AR. They’re often under 10 megabytes, which means that they’re about as heavy as two or three images on your existing site. So the reason that’s important is a big concern is you don’t want to have things on your website that chromatically slow your site down and end up having the opposite effect. So air models are meant to load really fast and the particular file formats that they come in, uh, you might often, you know, as you search around, you’ll probably see things like glTF, GLB, USD, Z, all of these acronyms. But at the end of the day, we’ll give you the two most important file types that matter and that work on laptops and every single Apple or phone. So those

Caroline:

are the.gov and the dot. USD Z. And these file formats have staying power so they’re not going to go obsolete in a couple of months. These are backed by Shopify and they’re backed by Google, Facebook and Microsoft and Apple. Now these are the file formats if people don’t understand this is a, our technology. That’s right. And also 3d so on the laptop as well, if you don’t have a cap on your laptop, we’ll get in three D fantastic. I’m actually sitting here while you’re talking and spinning the picture on the homepage of your website and you just grab it and drag it and it tends and yeah, you can see all of the way the light hits it. And it’s so true. It looks so realistic that the light is shining on every, it doesn’t matter where you tend it to. The light’s always going to be in that same spot because that’s where the light shining looks.

Caroline:

Fantastic. Thank you. And the nice thing about ed models is that this is a little, you know, this is stretching it a little bit, but I’m fairly confident that soon that air models will be extremely useful for the purposes of photography. And the way this might work is if you have your air model, you can place it inside a digital scene in your computer and take photos there. Much like animated movies are made today. Fantastic. So we spoke about this a little bit before. So you have like a library of background screens that you don’t just need to have a white background, you can actually have different backgrounds as well, which is something that I always talk about, have some white backgrounds but also show the actual item in its real habitats. Absolutely. And if I might actually make a pitch for a product that I don’t represent, but I just really respect because a lot of, I’m sure a lot of Oh viewers enjoy using Adobe Photoshop.

Caroline:

There’s a tool called Adobe dimension, which is meant for exactly this and it just really well made for the purpose of photography. So when it comes to M models on your homepage of your website, you actually have a photo of a clock, which it really does help if I’m looking at a clock. I actually just bought an alarm clock for my, one of my kids for Christmas and I was looking through all the pictures. So I actually have just been looking at clocks recently. And that same thing of sort of like looking and going, well okay what does this actually look like? It’s on a website but it’s two dimensional. We have no idea. So looking at these clock on your homepage, it actually makes me realize I can almost touch it in the in a way. So what sort of products do you think are best for this sort of technology at the moment and what’s, you know, who are the first people that should take this on without even thinking about it? Right. It should definitely be products that are static, which means when you put them down, they sit still. This could be anything from household goods, like a clock, the chairs to tables to furniture, iPhone cases. We see a lot of iPhone cases and pairs of shoes. Really anything that really good and you place it down. Sit still. Cool. And you were saying also something like sunglasses would be a good one. I’ve got one of my clients who does sunglasses and no prescription glasses. Well sunglasses

Sahil:

would be great too. The really nice thing is that even though there might be some worries about sunglasses with the reflective coating or the not totally transparent through the lens, that effect will be visible, believe it or not, in the arm free day.

Caroline:

I also just want to throw in there as well. If people listening have not tried AR technology. I actually was in the Google store in New York last year and we had some time to kill and went in and try it on one of those headsets and I had never done it that he see it on TV when they show people using it, but it’s completely different when you’re using it yourself. So anyone who hasn’t actually tried that technology should go and find this. Lots of places where you can try it for free. It’s completely different. It’s a completely different experience. Even looking at your clock on your website when it does become AR, it does have a different experience again, doesn’t it?

Sahil:

I really think it does and one statistic I got from Shopify is that it doubled engagement and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Like they, it’s literally two X and I’m not sure many, you know, plugins that are out there that have that kind of an effect. Oh, like it’s not 10 or 20% it’s two acts and I’m sure that number is probably going to go much higher when common knowledge about it goes up

Caroline:

and that’s engagement and that’s actually what we’re all looking for. Shopify merchants, we talk about getting a lot of traffic and there’s a whole lot of marketing people that say, just get more traffic to your website, and I always cringe and say it’s not about just getting more traffic. I think get your million views. To what side? It’s about the engagement. It’s about people buying. So I think that is actually a really powerful number to say. It doubles the engagement that it’s engagement that creates the sales.

Sahil:

I did have a question with Carolina if you might offer some light on this, but what are the top problems with photography for just as Parker’s viewers right now?

Caroline:

I think actually for just as Papa clients, it’s really about the fact that people are not spending money on getting its own properly or don’t even learning how to do it properly so they’re not even getting good photos in the first place. That’s really what we find coming through is that a lot of people are coming to us with just bad imagery and thinking that it’s enough that it will do and it’s something that I’m always stressing that it’s not enough. It has to be perfect. It has to be amazing. I just had a client last week, she came to us originally about a year ago and she had average photos, nothing bad, nothing great, but that they were good photos that nothing special and sometimes I check my client’s websites if I go through certain things and I had a look and she’s upgraded her images. She does like cereals, newsletters and things like that and has just got a whole new range of photos and they’re amazing and wow, what a difference. Good images make.

Sahil:

Just can imagine in my mind a really well shot picture of muesli. Like it’s really good.

Caroline:

Exactly. That’s something like you want to, and I’m just thinking as I said that for a bowl of it would be really cool. Like you just want to dive, eat and eat that like really getting to that ball of music. Honestly, I would. Yeah, exactly. I’m getting hungry right now. Exactly. So tell us a little bit you, you’ve already been doing this for um, six months, so tell us a little bit about the clients that you’ve had so far. In some cases, maybe just like an example, because while your prices are not extremely cheap, when you first look at your prices, they’re not super cheap. It’s not like someone’s going to come to you and for $5 get the images done, but you’re also not that expensive when people can look at what the results are. So can we just sort of talk about a few case studies? You can give client names if you want to be, you don’t have to. Just some examples of clients and what has happened from using your technology.

Sahil:

Sure, absolutely. So starting on the simplest end would be iPhone cases that we’ve done where a client just sent us typical average photos of an iPhone case and we upgraded them. We made the model.

Caroline:

And once they had that model on their homepage, they saw

Sahil:

I actually don’t have the numbers for this, but they did see a dramatic improvement and just a really great piece of email feedback from them. Another example would be a coffee machine company for whom we made

Sahil:

30 models of the machines. And with those models, they not only showed them on their homepage and saw a spike in results, but they also made QVC style videos and hosted it on YouTube of the host showing the AR machine in a video. And speaking about it like that, I thought that was very interesting. And that same company told me a story where there was a customer on the fence as to whether or not they were going to buy this machine. And then the story goes, he took out his phone, he opened up the air model, and then what he told me that the coffee machine companies that the wife gave her approval and, and the AR machine pushed her over the edge and, and give them the confidence to buy the machine. So do you know if there are any spousal disagreements happening? I’m sure an error model might resolve some of those.

Caroline:

Yeah, exactly. But I think that that, that’s actually a really good example of, you know, a coffee machine and we think of a coffee machine is, Oh, if I give them the technical information, we can tell them exactly what sort of pods that uses or what sort of coffee grinder, whatever it might be. And we just have to tell them that it makes this amount of coffee or this is how hot it gets. Or this is the, you know, the color of it. People think they assume that that should be enough to get someone to buy. And these days it’s not, people want to, and I say this to people, you want your website to look like someone you want it to be like someone can walk into a shop, pick it up and turn it around. How many times have you been into like a big one of those big department stores and someone’s picking up and touching a coffee machine? They can’t make a coffee with it, but they’re still touching it, turning it around. And that’s not going to change the actual coffee. But it does make them, it connects them to the item.

Sahil:

I might, you know, might actually say it does change the experience of the coffee because it’s the idea of drinking coffee. That’s the most, that’s the reason people buy it, right? It’s the um, it’s the quality of experience of it and,

Caroline:

and whatever it takes to get that, uh, whether it’s photography or moms, I think every little, you know, thing has an effect. If somebody is speaking from being immersed in this almost all day long with making models and you know, the mind is taken to a virtual Spase and I think that’s not the number of hours in the day where that’s happening. It’s not going to go down. So whether it’s playing video games or whether it’s creating digital objects in three D Spase, or whether it’s purchasing items in three D Spase, I think our minds are getting wrapped around inside the computer. So that’s a very interesting and strange time. But the net result is just really compelling, really dependent models. I did a webinar last year, I actually should have the video on my website on just as Parker, if anyone wants to watch it. It’s very interesting.

Caroline:

I talk about the psychology of people purchasing and I think that doing what I’ve been doing for such a long time, and you know I studied marketing over 20 years ago, so you know, and I’ve had offline businesses like real, I’ve had hairdressing salon, I’ve had other offline businesses and I’ve had that experience of offline and then online for the last more than 15 years. And the psychology of how people buy is very important. And I think a lot of people miss that. And what you were just talking about there, if you know a coffee machine, people wanting how they experience the purchasing is the experience of what they’re actually doing and they’re just drinking coffee. But it is that they are drinking coffee and that’s what the whole experience is. So I think that as a Shopify match and just thinking it’s just a copy machine that they should just have the technical information.

Caroline:

And that’s an Apple. The other things you spoke about, iPhone covers, it’s fits the iPhone five what else do you need to know or it’s blue. What else do you need to know? Actually people want to know more because they will be holding that or it’ll be in their house and it’s a piece of furniture or it’s in their house and they’ll look at it because it’s a picture frame or it’s going to be a pair of sunglasses they wear on their face. So anything that you can do to help the psychology of a person purchasing that is so important and we are moving into a situation where if your story is not doing it, the other stores will be and you’re just going to be left behind from all the other souls that are doing it. I really think that’s the case where you need to bring your store into the home and once you know if your competitors are doing it, then then the decision gets tougher.

Caroline:

So it’s really all about, no, the word that’s often thrown around is immersive computing. But in, in really simple terms, it’s you have to bring your store into the house and [inaudible] what’s actually interesting is that this technology has been out for like at least three years. But the reason I think now it’s important is the most phones sold today almost actually every phone sold today can do the AR effect and then computers are getting more powerful and then also a Shopify enabling the viewer. So I think that’s why even though this technology, the conversation been going around for a couple of years, I think January, 2020 is going to be the inflection point. Oh really? Because of Shopify. And you know what I you say that about um, does technology, it’s so true. Video was around for so many years. Like I was talking to clients about marketing using video years ago.

Caroline:

But the problem was six, seven years ago, no one had the capacity on their phones to watch videos like they do now. They didn’t have the data download data available, internet was slower, blah, blah, blah. And so back then, six years ago, even though the technology was there, it was good. It wasn’t what it is now. And that’s what we’re AR is now. We’re at that stage where it’s all just starting. Like you said, it’s the inflection point. It’s going to start. And I’ll give another tip to everyone. I don’t know if you know about this, but um, it was about a year or two ago, Amazon. So everyone’s sitting there saying to me, Oh, I want to make all these sales. But remember Amazon is such a big company and at the end of the day, I say to people, your competition is not Amazon because you know, you’ve got other competitors, but Amazon is your competitor in a way.

Caroline:

Because people go to Amazon first because they have their prime accounts where they know everything’s there. And now a couple of years ago, Amazon brought in a new regulation for all of their Amazon account holders that they had to have certain styles of photos and they just said, if you don’t have these photos the way we want you to have them, they made all these changes to the way the Amazon images were displayed and everyone just had to upgrade all the images and make them exactly uniform to what Amazon expected. I can guarantee everyone out there listening. Amazon will do this with three D modeling and AR. They will. It might not be this month. It might not be next month, but I guarantee I will not be surprised if it happens by mid this year in the next six months. If Amazon doesn’t say to everyone, because for Amazon it doesn’t cost them anything to do this.

Caroline:

It means that the people selling on their website have to upgrade the images. Now, if that happens, it means that the whole of the Amazon stores, they will all have these amazing images and then you are competing against that with your little images. That is just like, Oh, I’ve put three images and someone’s going to buy from that, or are they going to go to Amazon and see this amazing image that’s there? Oh, that’s a really interesting point. Yeah, it’s like an Amazon tax, but they’re going to have, they’re going to make everybody do it. Will they did it with the images already. So I just would not be surprised if it happens in the next, I really think it will happen soon. So on that note, I’m talking about the future of AR, but how about you tell us what you see is happening in AR in the next couple of years? I’m sure you’d love strange looks when I keep talking about this, but I think we’re all gonna start living like Harry Potter pretty soon, where we have smart glasses and a magic wand and what the smart glasses are going to do. They’ll have a, a retinal projector and they’ll have an outward camera. You’ll get the AR effect where that’s a, you know, particular example. You’re buying a coffee machine. The glasses will project the machine on

Sahil:

your desk and then you’ll see that. And then to manipulate it and issue commands and do various things. You’ll have this wand or pencil that’s gonna let you direct your attention. This is, I think gonna happen within two years based on, and if you’re following Apple’s patents and all their announcements, that’s probably going to come in two years. And the nice thing is that these air models are the same models that are, that are going to work and be supported by Apple. So again, it’s not going to go obsolete. So I think that’s really the future. [inaudible] 11 up a number of benefits, which is that um, people can be shopping all day long with their smart glasses and it becomes even more important to have the three dimensional representation of it instead of

Caroline:

your average photos. And so tell me for a second, if someone has uses your system and they go and get, let’s say the clock, you’ve got the clock on the homepage of your website. Let’s say they go and get a cloak design for their website, they can turn that into a video. Like you said, that company, the coffee company that made videos from it, you can use it as a mini video on your Instagram and

Sahil:

you know YouTube and anywhere else that you make a video. You can also, like you said, turn that into not just a plain background but also different styles of background so you can even put it in the clock, in a bedroom, on the kitchen table, wherever you want to put it. Is there anything else that someone can do with these images at the moment that mostly covers all of it? It’s going to be the 3d spinning around experience on the browser. It’s going to be the AR experience on a phone. It’s going to be, if you use it to like Adobe dimension, you can take photos and then you can take videos of that model and you’re not going to have your typical lighting problems where you’re struggling to get your three point lighting setup or you know a very high end studio to get the right lighting. Because once you have the model you can get lighting exactly as you want it.

Caroline:

No right behind your keyboard. And so this sort of thing, if someone doesn’t use the Adobe and they don’t know how to use those things, I’m sure that Canva, I recommend Canva to people a lot because for us people that are not great with that sort of Photoshop stuff. Canvas doing a lot of really great stuff at the moment with um, GIF images and things like that and they’re really moving along with some show that this will be something eventually Canva will so that you can do easily, but there’ll be other services that you can find where people can help you with this sort of thing because you don’t do that part. Do you, once you give them them the image, then they have to work with it themselves. Is that correct?

Sahil:

At the moment. That’s correct. But given how important I think this is, I think we’ll make an effort to do that, which means that we’ll provide maybe no 12 to 15 images on a white background of every product at at no cost. Because to us, once we have the model, it’s actually quite easy to take those photos. So we might actually, thanks for that idea. I think we’ll provide the photos as well.

Caroline:

Fantastic. And you can just give me some royalties from the other question I had. Is there any limits with what you can offer at the moment? The limit would be clothing on a mannequin. We tend to stay away from clothing on a mannequin, but we can do clothing if it’s laid flat. Okay. So why, why clothing? What’s the problem with clothing? Clothing is not in that category where, you know, if you put it somewhere it doesn’t stay still. Ah, yes. It’ll, you know, it’ll crumble. It doesn’t have a very strict shape. And so then the next step is people ask, okay, can you put it on a mannequin? But then that gets also tricky because then you have to deal with the folds and the gravity [inaudible] no, that makes total sense. And at the moment, a lot of these websites, these big like a SaaS websites and um, even Zara and H and, M, they’re all now doing where the model actually walks with the clothing.

Caroline:

And I always recommend that. So, yeah, I think that that’s fine that there’s, you know, there’s other ways to do that. So if somebody gets this file from you, how do they upload it into Shopify? Is it easy for them to do themselves? Yes. Um, Shopify is going to make it as easy as you drag in photos to drag and models. Well, Sahil, I think you’ve given us the most amazing information about how people can use these sorts of new images and the, you know, technology moving forward is just amazing and I think everyone needs to take action and use it. And even if it’s just a couple of products to start off with. So if someone has a couple of products that they know that they’ll keep for a long time on their website and they want to start there, or there’s a really good profit margin in it.

Caroline:

But you even said you’ve got some clients that are just selling iPhone covers, which couldn’t be selling for more than $50 each. So, you know, the average iPhone covers somewhere around 10 to $20. So it’s working. I love that. And I think people should at least check out your website, reach out to you and find out more because you work with every client manually, don’t you? They could say it’s a process where you talk to them. It’s an automated system at the moment it’s somewhat automated. There’s an order dashboard so we can handle larger volumes for sure. Okay. And they can just reach out and ask you questions if they have any questions about their particular products. And right now I’m the only customer service rep, so I’m always happy to help. Well you definitely know how to explain things in an easy way. And that’s what I love about guests who can come on here and help people who are just here trying to start a business, trying to get something out to the market and a great idea.

Caroline:

But the technical side gets a little bit overwhelming for them. So you’ve definitely done a really good job explaining it in a simplified way. So that’s fantastic. And I’m very grateful for it and I’ve really looked forward to seeing what happens. And I’d love to have you back if any new features such or arise or you start to see new changes, then definitely I’d love to have you back on the blood pass tells more about what’s happening in this Spase. Caroline had a great time and appreciate the advice from photography. Wonderful and would you like to just give us the website again so everyone knows where it is and it will be in the show notes as well. It’s Spase.io Spase is spelled spase.io and if they go to the app store they can find it there as well. Yes. Wonderful. Sahil, you have been wonderful. Thank you so much for being here today and thank you all of the listeners for being here and let’s make 2020 an amazing year because it’s definitely looking like well me and everyone that I’ve met around me so far, everyone’s saying, Hey, this is the year so many great things are happening. So good luck to everyone and I look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Bye everyone. Bye bye.

Outro:

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