While the news has been filled with images of the Pope and others in puffer jackets created by AI, many overlook just how existing tech can already play a significant role in creating image-based content for retailers.
Brands and retailers today must be active on many channels to stay competitive, making content even more important. Companies must find solutions that work across all media types to keep up. However, producing visual content to sell and market products takes time, effort, and planning, especially when it involves traditional photo shoots.
This was exactly the problem facing GALEC, a divison of European retailer E.Leclerc – and it has found an interesting and cost and time saving solution in CGI.
Jean-Philippe Marazzani, Chief Marketing Officer of GALEC explains, “At E.Leclerc, we make detailed plans around sales forecasts and how our offerings are structured one year in advance. Because of our huge production volumes, this is the best way to know how much content we need. Because our photo shoots take about five weeks, we have to think in advance about who we want to target, what media we’ll use, and anything else we need to anticipate — even the unexpected.”
For retailers who market via print and direct mail, the rising costs of inputs like paper make digital solutions even more imperative. From 2020 to 2022, the price of a ton of paper quadrupled. “Some retailers have decided to reduce the number of catalogues and distribution locations they send, or even outright eliminate them for certain operations and instead focus on digital media,” says Marazzani.
E.Leclerc set out to find new technology that didn’t rely on traditional production methods and the delays and constraints that come with them. They wanted a digital solution that accelerated and simplified content production across various formats and channels, all while keeping costs low. The solution had to cost the same or less than paper.
Building experience while managing costs
But the content produced must serve a purpose. Ultimately, it must enable personalisation and customisation to enhance the customer experience and drive conversion. “The real challenge is to produce more immersive content adapted to our different targets and communication channels. We strive to be as effective as ever in communication while managing the increase in costs and improving the customer experience,” notes Marazzani.
“We searched for cheaper and faster visual production solutions and discovered a SaaS platform,” he recalls. At first, the E.Leclerc team was skeptical. “The idea of using 3D imagery instead of a photo shoot wasn’t obvious. How could we produce the same quality in 3D as we did with real photography?”
The solution: unlimited possibilities with CGI
With Nfinite, E.Leclerc quickly achieved success. After seeing the platform in action, they were ready to dive in and get started. “Advances in technology allow us to produce high-quality visuals that fit whatever marketing channel we use.” In addition to quality, the team was intrigued by the infinite possibilities enabled by each 3D model. Changing colours, angles, lighting, seasons, and contexts make it easy to adapt flexibly to the experiences customers are looking for. “Using CGI, Nfinite allows us to produce visuals faster and cheaper without our team needing to learn new technical skills,” adds Marazzani.
The result? Content that engages for a fraction of the cost
Bringing on new technology can be challenging, especially when it fundamentally changes how teams operate. But Nfinite’s simplicity eased the transition for E.Leclerc’s team. “The platform is straightforward to use. The solution is perfectly accessible and requires no technical skills.” And now, the team is reaping the benefits.
“Thanks to Nfinite, we’ve been able to reorganize and streamline our content production workflow, reducing complexity and the number of stakeholders that need to be involved,” says Marazzani. Instead of relying heavily on agencies, photographers, and press agents as they did during the photo shoot process, the E.Leclerc creative team can produce the content they need internally. And if they encounter any unforeseen challenges, the Nfinite team is there to help.
Saving time at every step in the process
Photoshoots with five-week timelines are now a thing of the past. “Without photo studios, sending samples, samples getting lost, payment for services rendered, hours of reprocessing, and trips to the shoot, the E.Leclerc team can now create visual content in 48 hours,” says Marazzani. The benefits don’t stop there: “We can even anticipate what visual creations will look like thanks to product modeling and deriving new variations of existing scenes.”
Cost savings of over 30% in the first year
The savings were instant. With more easily understandable and predictable costs, E.Leclerc has eliminated the risk of cost overruns which are endemic to the classic photo shoot.
One significant contributing factor to cost savings is reusability. The team can use one asset across print and digital and reuse it across different seasons and years, customizing the output as desired.
Marazzani says: “Once you have those 3D models, there’s no limit to the content you can produce. With Nfinite, we have built an extensive base of proprietary assets that will enable us to produce content for years. Those assets enhance the value of the E.Leclerc brand and will enable incredible future possibilities.”
Cost savings were 30% in the first year. “In the second year, our cost savings increased even more by reusing 3D assets to build new variations and images.” Marazzani expects this number to continue to rise in the coming years.
Nfinite is enabling E.Leclerc to create an immersive, personalized customer experience that speaks to the preferences of each of its consumers. These experiences span every channel, with customers expecting a certain standard of visual content and personalization from E.Leclerc.