CAD design company, Virtual Worlds, has celebrated a year of success and innovation in virtual reality technology with a series of roadshows, including its latest and last event of 2017 at Ultra in Halifax, which will take place on the 22nd and 23rd November.
Virtual Worlds, which turned 20 this year, has marked 2017 as a momentous year of innovation, having launched its first-of-a-kind 4D Theatre, which brings a level of spatial awareness and immersion never before seen in the KBB industry. Allowing users to enter and walk around a proposed room from a first person perspective, via a virtual reality headset. 4D Theatre features an up-to-date catalogue of more than 100 popular manufacturers, such as Ideal Standard and Villeroy and Boch.
The occasion will see the cutting-edge company host an engaging roadshow at Ultra, where KBB retailers will be able to try out its 4D Theatre and see first-hand the power of virtual reality. Experts from Virtual Worlds will also be on hand to offer advice on how virtual reality software can help to generate sales and increase conversion rates.
The tour started at leading sanitary ware manufacturer Geberit’s head office in Warwick in May, and since then Virtual Worlds has toured the UK, visiting five locations as part of their roadshow tour.
Nathan Maclean, managing director of Virtual Worlds, said: “2017 has been an incredibly exciting year for us with lots of new developments and products being created. CAD design has come a long way in such a short space of time, and for KBB retailers, virtual reality is the next step along in that journey.
“Our roadshow will help to give retailers the opportunity to experience the excitement of virtual reality technology and see how it can be a highly effective sales tool, making it easier for customers to experience, and fall in love with, their dream kitchen, bedroom or bathroom.
“Our final roadshow of 2017 will be a great way to top off what has been a truly successful year for us, full of pioneering technology and progress. It’s fair to say that we’re looking forward to continuing to innovate to the next level in 2018.”
CAD design has come on leaps and bounds in the 20 years during which Virtual Worlds has been working in the space, most recently with the development of VR technology. Over the last few years VR has really begun to make its mark as a serious option for designers and retailers as they seek a more interactive, immersive way of sharing their plans with customers.
Once an icon of low-budget science fiction movies, VR has become more accessible since the turn of the decade thanks to the evolution of smartphones, games consoles and dedicated headsets such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
Innovation-led CAD technology company, Virtual Worlds is continuing to grow with the addition of a new regional sales representative to its busy team.
Leigh Townley has joined the firm to help drive sales of its market-leading 3D & 4D design software and raise awareness of the product in the KBB businesses across Scotland.
Leigh has over 10 years’ experience working in the design and interior architecture business in sales and design roles. For the past three years he has been working at Luxury Home Design in Glasgow where he has been project managing, remodelling and helping with the designs and layouts for his customers’ homes.
Now active in his new role, Leigh will be responsible for driving Virtual Worlds’ brand into the, until now, untapped Scotland region.
Nathan MacLean, managing director at Virtual Worlds, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Leigh to the team, his work with architects and designers has given him a wealth of knowledge in the design industry and has an innate understanding about what Virtual Worlds is all about. With a solid sales background stretching over seven years this role is perfectly suited to Leigh, and we can’t wait for him to get started expanding our customers within Scotland.”
With a new report highlighting the millennial generation as the UK’s most active renovators and decorators, Virtual Worlds is reminding retailers of the importance of selling on the benefits of CAD technology to this captive audience.
According to a new report by Houzz, over half (57%) of millennial homeowners (aged 25 to 34) renovated their home in 2015, which was in line other age categories. However, millennials far outpaced other generations when it’s comes to delving into decorating – with 79% having recently redecorated compared with 71% of those aged 35 to 54 and 68% of those 55 and over.
Nathan Maclean, managing director of Virtual Worlds comments: “It is interesting to see this distinctive market shift as the younger catchment group begin to enter the housing market and invest in customising their new home. More so, with the report showing that the kitchen is the second most prevalent home improvement focus, shortly followed by the bathroom, it certainly reflects a buoyant opportunity for the KBB retailer.”
To help retailers take stock of this opportunity, Virtual Worlds’ innovative 4D CAD technology, the first of its kind in the UK, enables would-be buyers an incredibly realistic 4D simulation of physically being in their dream design. Users are able to immerse themselves in the room as an avatar; allowing them to get a feel for the space, how the designs works and even try out functions such as opening drawers.
Nathan adds: “As a generation already well accustomed to the marvels of modern day technology, millennials are a natural audience for 4D simulations; and in fact, from our experience, many actively seek it as part of their buying process.
“For the retailer looking to tap into this opportunity then, we’d recommend it as a way to attract business, create standout and driving sales – after all, once a customer has had the experience of walking around their dream kitchen or bathroom design it is very likely that they will be sold.”
Virtual Worlds is continuing to grow with the addition of two new regional sales representatives to its busy team.
Miles Maunganidze and Brandon Kwesiga have joined the firm to help drive sales of its market-leading 3D & 4D Design software and raise awareness of the product in businesses across the south of England, the Midlands and Wales.
Brandon will be covering London and the South East of England and has 10 years’ experience in the bathroom industry since first joining the Bathstore as a sales consultant in 2006. He most recently worked at bathroom supplier Farmiloe where he was the company’s brand manager, having been promoted from the position of business development manager earlier in 2016.
With an equally impressive retail background, Miles will be bringing a fresh perspective to Virtual Worlds, following a successful career in retail store management including spells at House of Fraser and Superdry.
With a business management degree from Brunel University, he will be able to use his customer experience skills to get retailers on board whilst managing sales across the Midlands, South West and Wales.
Nathan MacLean, managing director at Virtual Worlds, said: “We’re delighted to welcome both Miles and Brandon to the team. We’re sure they will both prove to be a real asset to the business in the months and years ahead.
“Having two additional experienced sales representatives in our team will allow us to continue to grow and develop our business, and ensure many more customers are able to take advantage of Virtual Worlds’ design package when they visit retailers and create their dream kitchen or bathroom.”
The KBB retail dynamic has changed dramatically in recent years driven, in the large part, by the advent of e-commerce.
Last year alone, UK online spending rose by 11% to £114 billion and it is expected to grow by a further 11% this year, equating to an overall £126 billion. In fact, it is now estimated that some 27% of all retail sales now take place online.
More so, this age of constant connectivity and contextual relevance has irrevocably changed the way consumers make purchasing decisions; they’re able to instantly compare prices and product reviews in store, consult family and friends instantly via social media and, when they’re ready to buy, there is an ever-growing list of online retailers who will deliver products directly to them and, all too often, at a cheaper price.
Naturally, this hasn’t escaped the KBB industry with an increasing number of consumers choosing to buy their new kitchen or bathroom online. Cue an increased need for KBB retailers to be forward thinking and adapt their services to this new way of interacting with and engaging with customers.
This is clearly reflected in the latest Mintel report on the bathroom sector which concurs ‘Retailers need to build a wide suite of skills to service the complex requirements of a bathroom make-over – services will become increasingly sophisticated, with branded elements to add reassurance for shoppers.’
Here, the remit is about thinking outside the box and applying the use of the technology to a retail advantage. One clever way, for example, of getting consumers through the door with very minimal effort is through the use of an online planner; in short, a CAD planning tool which enables consumers to set out the room plan configuration for say, their bathroom of kitchen, and plot in their choice of furniture and accessories – all from the comfort of their own home.
Obviously, as would-be customers need to input their details beforehand, this not only provides data capture but a captivated potential customer who is actively looking at purchasing a KBB product. As soon as the design is done, it is simply sent on to the retailer to follow up in a timely manner.
From our experience, retailers can receive up 25 designs in a month through an online planner and some manufacturers receive over 200 designs. Assuming they manage to get those enquiries in to the showroom, the result is the ultimate lead generator.
Then, when it comes to in-store, it’s about making the experience as engaging and interactive as possible. Of course, the heart of this lies in the showroom which must be as aspirational and current as possible in order to showcase the full design possibilities available – also in having a strong design consultancy to help inspire customers.
Again though, the latest technology can take the customer experience to the next level.
The industry’s first generation of 4D CAD technology, for example, delivers high quality, virtual reality and an interactive buying experience via a futuristic headset. In this way, users are able to experience a realistic 4D simulation of physically being in their dream kitchen or bathroom design via an avatar set to their appearance; allowing them to see exactly how much space there is between the island units and the oven and to ensure there is sufficient storage for their requirements by extending drawers fully and operating functional fittings such as magic corner units.
The use of 4D virtual reality can become an invaluable business tool. Given that most consumers can struggle to grasp an overhead, 3D plan or flat render, however realistic it looks, the 4D experience negates this problem entirely by allowing designers to express their ideas in a precise way that their clients physically experience. It also enables installers to plan work with confidence, knowing the design will work as ‘real’ products have been tried out in the design.
The result, in effect, is negation of the typical ‘buyer remorse’. Given that a new bathroom or kitchen is a huge investment for the average consumer, it is, of course, extremely important that they get it right. In this way, it effectively alleviates the fear factor associated to buying these big ticket items.
Testament to this, at Virtual Worlds, our customers, for instance, have reported an average 50 per cent increase in sales conversions since using our CAD technology – with some reporting a conversion rate of 80%.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that, unlike the FMCG sector, buying a new kitchen or bathroom is a rare and extremely costly experience. Therefore, amid constant tales of buyers being duped with online purchase which fail to live up to expectations and with two thirds (63%) of shoppers admitting they don’t get the best service and overall experience online3, the business case for the KBB retail experience is a strong one.
However, times are changing and the reality is that the age-old formula of great customer service and an experienced design team won’t always cut it and it’s more important than ever to create stand out. By investing in the latest technological innovations, retailers can look to drastically enhance the buyer experience; creating a tangible ‘wow’ factor which will not only get customers in the door but help close the deal. For more information on Virtual Worlds, please visit www.virtualworlds.co.uk
*Taken from September’s issue of KBB Review – page 20*
Virtual Worlds at Logicom, the innovation-led CAD company, has appointed Jamie Gibbs as its first Customer Experience Manager. The new role reflects the company’s expansion into software which delivers both advanced CAD design and consumer-interfacing experiences, including its new Showroom 4D. Gibbs will be an external-facing customer champion.
Nathan Maclean, Acting Managing Director at Logicom explains the thinking behind the new position: “Our recently launched Virtual Worlds One package provides customers with a formidable array of powerful design and selling tools, including the exciting new 4D technology. Take-up has been exceptional and Jamie will be providing invaluable after-sales service, helping customers to use all the technology to its full potential and tailor it to their business”.
Gibbs has in-depth knowledge of the Virtual Worlds suite of software, having worked in Support and Training for the last three years. He explains: “My prime focus will be new users, including those of our 4D showroom software, providing hands-on support from the very out-set, so that they quickly get up to speed. The 4D technology is awesome and I’ll be going the extra mile to make sure our customers get the most from it.”
Under a subscription known as Virtual Worlds One, Virtual Worlds 4D is bundled together with Virtual Worlds Professional interactive 3D CAD software, its Viewer App and 2D Planning. Logicom is behind Virtual Worlds and it is understood that more innovations are currently in development, including a pricing module, which will be made available to all Virtual Worlds One subscribers.
CAD has become a must-have software tool for the KBB sector. The correlation between the expansion of CAD’s capabilities and the increasing number of users is no surprise to those working in development. We liaise closely with them and their expectations help define CAD’s future direction.
The list of current users is extensive, from manufacturers to designers, independent retailers to builders’ merchants. Some users have specific requirements, which can become the springboard for future technology. The 3D interactive versions are already powerful KBB design tools and deliver an engaging shopping experience with their Viewer Apps and 3D walk-throughs. There are signs that some retailers are looking for more integration in their business.
Logicom develops bespoke CAD software for such customers, one such example is a major retail chain in the Middle East. Abyat is a one-stop outlet for consumers and contractors building a new home. Its CAD software, based on Virtual Worlds, has evolved over several years. In addition to the product catalogues aspect of the software, a back-office system for Abyat’s kitchen catalogue has been developed, which enables the sales staff to create a quote and to trigger a finalised order. Given the fact that customers purchase virtually their entire house from Abyat, this automated system saves extensive sales and administration time and negates order specification errors.
(Attribute article to Nathan MacLean, Acting Managing Director, Logicom)
…and granted, that’s pretty well up there for being more than enough accolade for anyone; but here at Virtual Worlds we have many strings to our bow!
Now, we all love a trade exhibition but stand competition can be pretty tough – so you have to make sure you capture the crowd as they pass by and make your product look the very best it can be. There’s no getting away from it, we live in a time where we all like things ‘instant’ and to truly engage with your audience, your stand must be compelling and attractive to draw in passers by and hopefully, maximise those selling opportunities!
What better way to do that, than with video! People usually like to watch something on a screen, in preference to reading a leaflet or booklet and will respond with much greater force.
Video marketing is becoming increasingly effective as a marketing medium, both online and in an environment like exhibitions. It’s quick and effective and encourages people to engage with your brand by saving them time… and it just so happens, back here at Virtual Worlds HQ, we can help you do just that!
Not only do we produce the ultimate 3D design software for the kbb industry and interior designers, but we have a great Video & Audio Production team who can create and produce a vast range of broadcast quality projects.
With fully equipped in-house facilities, including a video edit suite, HD video camera equipment, ISDN link and a professional sound recording studio! We offer a very cost effective solution to our clients, by having everything under one roof – not only do our audio and video departments work closely, but they also work together with our other creatives; so we can seamlessly integrate sound, video, 3D graphics and animations with your projects.
Virtual Worlds by Logicom staff took to their bikes in aid of Red Nose Day on Friday 13th March. The 3D interactive, design software team organised a day full of activities and challenges in aid of the charity with the main focus of the day being a 24 hour static bike challenge with the team “virtually” cycling around the UK. Customers also got to participate by taking part in specialised workshops, with all proceeds going to the charity, as well as entering themed design competitions and taking part in the “Find the Red Nose” competition via the Virtual Worlds’ Design Viewer App.
The team, some of whom cycled throughout the night, clocked up an impressive 1,056 miles during their mammoth 24 hour challenge with customers and the like able to track the team’s progress via a live webcam on the Virtual Worlds’ website. The event has, so far, risen over £1,900 for the charity with donations still being received.
Managing Director, Nathan MacLean said “The Virtual Worlds team at Logicom are dedicated to improving the odds for success in our client’s businesses and I am proud that their duty of care extends beyond this, into the wellbeing of people that need a helping hand. The event was a huge success and a great motivational exercise for all involved…including myself!
A just world, free of poverty: we support this audacious goal, and ask that our partners in business do too by pledging money to this good cause.”
Donations can still be given via www.justgiving.com/logicom-red-nose-day
It’s been a busy month here at Virtual Worlds with many updates and new catalogue releases from our top manufacturers. Our latest updates are all now available to download from the Virtual Worlds User Centre so don’t delay and download them today and improve your customer offering.
TOTO’s impressive portfolio is featured in this new catalogue including a wide selection of products from TOTO’s ranges of sanitary ware, baths, furniture, taps, showers and accessories.
“TOTO is very pleased to be included in the Virtual Worlds catalogue of products. This is a valuable resource for our retail partners and their designers, helping them to create the perfect TOTO bathroom for each client.” Mr Sohei Nishida, UK General Manager, TOTO Europe GmbH
New Product Launch – Don’t just have a bath – love it… view our new collection of luxury contemporary freestanding baths – lovingly handcrafted using innovative manufacturing techniques and using the finest materials – specified by architects and interior designs and available only through an elite collection of exclusive bathroom retailers.
The standard catalogue for theshowerlab sees parametrics used for the first time in Virtual Worlds. This new catalogue includes all of the standard shower enclosures, trays and customisable components in theshowerlab’s product range. Bespoke theshowerlab product catalogues will be available in the future.
Laufen are signed up to the Virtual Worlds subscription service which means their catalogues will be updated regularly on new product releases. Download this update, the first of many, for the complete range of items from the LAUFEN pro, ILBAGNOALESSI one and palace ranges of baths, furniture, sanitaryware, taps, shower fittings, enclosures and trays.
Featuring the Drayton, Mozzano and Radford ranges of sanitaryware and baths. This newly updated version also includes the Staffordshire range of taps and brassware and adds new items to the Tubo range of taps and brassware.
A great selection of generic sanitaryware, furniture, radiators, taps, showers and accessories including some new and more modern additions. This catalogue provides everything needed to quickly test your bathroom design concepts before replacing the generic items with branded products. The sanitaryware has most items in both traditional and contemporary styles, with every product type available in all configurations!
You can find it in the Generic section within the Catalogues in the Virtual Worlds User Centre.