Time to Provide More in Store…

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.

Virtual Worlds, bathroom, renders,
Image created using Virtual Worlds

 

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.’

google cardboard, virtual worlds, 3d software, bathroom design
Custom branded “Room-in-a-Box”

 

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.

Virtual Worlds 4D software.
Experience a 4D design using Virtual Worlds Software

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%.

Virtual Worlds, 4D Software, bathrooms, kitchens
In Store branding available to retailers

 

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* 

Updates and catalogue releases

The start of 2016 has seen a host of updated catalogues launched by Virtual Worlds. Keen to ensure users have the most recent data to hand, many manufactures are switching to a guaranteed update system which sees their products constantly updated on the market leading 3D design software.

The most recent releases include: Luxus, Bisque,  Merlyn, Roman, Vitra, TOTO, Roper Rhodes, Pelipal, Lakes, Schuller and Zehnder.

All catalogues are available to existing users via the User Centre. For further details contact the team on 01908 663848.

First Impressions of the New 4D CAD Experience for Showrooms

A new CAD consumer experience is being rolled-out by Logicom, which could significantly change the way retailers sell.   Launched at the May Design Series, Virtual Worlds 4D proved a popular attraction for visitors who queued up to don the futuristic headset and experience a 4D world. One or two sceptics suggested it was a techie gimmick, whereas most thought it could transform the showroom experience and prove an exciting new selling tool.  The first installations are completed and the early indications are that this latest innovation could be a game changer.

The technology

Virtual Worlds 4D is an adjunct to the popular Virtual Worlds Professional 3D interactive CAD software. Key to the technology is the Virtual Worlds unique interactive platform and the advanced, simulating headset. When worn by the customer, it places them centre stage, in the designed space. Look down and the customer sees an avatar of themselves, sitting in their new room.

VW4Dsmall

Designs in Virtual Worlds 4D appear with exceptionally realistic depth, scale and parallax, made possible by Virtual Worlds’ unique 3D modelling. Users of 4D have access to all the current product catalogues of a vast choice of KBB manufacturers’ brands. Each manufacturer has worked closely with Virtual Worlds to ensure their product collections are accurately replicated in 3D format and update their catalogues regularly.

In 4D the 110 degree viewing angle places the customer directly in the room rather than looking in through a screen. The response to eye movement is immediate, facilitating 360 degree head-tracking and interaction with moving elements of the room, including opening cupboards, looking inside drawers and stepping into showers.

A first for the KBB sector, Virtual Worlds 4D claims to deliver a ground-breaking, virtual reality and interactive buying experience, which is compelling and optimises the sales potential of excellent design.

Subscription based

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, 2D Planning and Pricing Module. The software specialist Logicom is behind Virtual Worlds and it is understood that more innovations are currently in development, which will be made available to all subscribers.

A unique showroom experience

Reese James is one of the first retailers to install 4D. Owned and managed by Nigel Mason, the company has a showroom located in Shirley, near Solihull. A hot spot for kitchen and bathroom showrooms, Reese James has three competitors within a five minute walk. Working in such close proximity to other kitchen and bathroom businesses is a key reason Mason was eager to sign up to the 4D package, as he explains.

“Our whole approach is to offer the consumer a unique and outstanding experience from beginning to end. Having seen the 4D demo, I was sold hook, line and sinker. I knew our customers would be wowed and I wanted it immediately for our showroom. This is a major, major way that we are different from the guys down the road.

Nigel Mason of Reese James with customer using Virtual Worlds 4D lr

On the day the software was installed Mason and his staff demonstrated its capabilities to a steady stream of staff from neighbouring businesses, intrigued by the experience. “It was comical, we’d complete one demo and another person would pop in saying they’d heard our goggles were amazing and could they have a go. We were the talk of the area and the experience spread by word of mouth, within hours. It made us begin to realise what a powerful marketing tool this was going to be.”

The showroom is split 50:50 between bathroom and kitchen settings with Rotpunkt, Dornbracht and Laufen products on prominent display. Mason considers the technologically advanced 4D is in keeping with these brands and the company’s upmarket and forward-looking image: “I want customers to enter our showroom and be so impressed with what they see and the shopping experience we promise that they commit without delay. For us 4D is instrumental in achieving this”.

Like Mason, Derek Waddington owner of Broadway Bathrooms in Putney, London was immediately excited by the whole concept of 4D: “I’ve used Virtual Worlds for five years now and love it. When I saw the 4D demonstration, I immediately thought it was for us. It’s an additional investment but our showroom is not that large and needs to work hard for us – I feel 4D will really help”.

Pre-empts installation issues

It is early days for 4D and Mason is the first to admit that he and his staff are still honing their sales pitch, when it comes to introducing consumers to it. His commitment to the technology is such that all potential customers are given a brief demonstration of the ability of the “goggles”, as he refers to the headset, at preliminary discussions and visits to the showroom. “We show them how their kitchen or bathroom design will be visualised, how it will appear through the goggles and the outstanding level of detail they will be able to experience. So far each one has been amazed.  You can hear some of them leaving the showroom still excitedly talking about it. This is a major, major tool for us. We plan to use 4D with as many people as possible.”

Resolves spacial awareness

One of the key features of the technology is that the customer experiences their kitchen or bathroom as though they were walking through it in real life. The realism is impressive, so much so that both Waddington and Mason report that 4D provides the spacial awareness which so many customers lack.

Customer using 4D at James Reese lr

“Most customers struggle to grasp an overhead, 3D plan or flat render – however smart it looks. We find the 4D experience overcomes this problem entirely. They feel physically in the room and so they can see exactly how much space there is between the island units and the oven or the drawers fully extended and whether there is sufficient space for their requirements. It avoids all sorts of potential problems”, explains Mason.

Waddington agrees: “We use Virtual Worlds a lot in the showroom as it is real time and in 3D. Customers can relate to what they are seeing − they really get involved with the design. I anticipate 4D is gong to be that much better”.

As the customer physically experiences the room via the headset in 4D, the designer views the same design on a screen, only in 3D format. If required, adjustments to the design can be made and the customer can view the changes immediately. There is no additional work involved for the designer to go from standard 3D interactive stage to showing the customer the design in 4D.

Waddington thinks the consumer experience of 4D could negate the requirement for producing high resolution renders entirely: “High quality rendering is slow and dated; I think there will be no need once the consumer has seen their design through the goggles – we’ll be talking to them at an entirely different level”.

Design consultation fee potential

Installation of the new CAD technology has also made both retailers start to re-evaluate their approach to charging for design consultations. Like so many kitchen and bathroom retailers, Reese James does not currently charge for designs and Broadway Bathrooms do so rarely, both nervous of deterring potential clients. However, the introduction of the 4D experience is making them question this approach. Mason explains his thinking: “If you can bolt together an impressive showroom with strong design, personal service and add the wow factor of Virtual Worlds 4D experience, I am beginning to think a consultation fee could be feasible”.

Now that would be a game changer.

(Published in KBB Review, September 2015 edition, page 49.)

Virtual Worlds Sponsors Inaugural BKU Awards

The first ever BKU Awards are being held at Madame Tussauds, Thursday 25 June 2015. Virtual Worlds is a major sponsor of the event and is looking forward to the Awards, meeting the winners and finalists and networking with the KBB industry.

The occasion promises to be a fun evening, celebrating excellence and innovation in the kitchen and bathroom industry. In fact, Virtual Worlds is delighted to be named as a finalist in the CAD category. The evening is hosted by DJ Greg Burns, a familiar face on Have I got News for You and the Catherine Tate Show.

Nathan MacLean, acting Managing Director at Virtual Worlds explains: “Awards help drive the industry to develop and share ideas, whilst giving the due recognition to those that excel”. He added: “Sponsoring this major industry event provides the opportunity to thank our many existing clients for their ongoing support”.

For more information and book tickets visit: www.bkuawards.co.uk

 

Virtual Worlds Launches the Future of CAD for Retail Showrooms

The future of CAD was revealed on the Virtual Worlds stand at The May Design Series. The company attracted huge interest with its demonstration of Virtual Worlds 4D, which promises KBB retailers a powerful technology-led consumer experience. A first for the KBB sector, Virtual Worlds 4D delivers a ground-breaking, virtual reality and interactive buying experience, which is compelling and optimises the sales potential of excellent design.

Nathan Maclean, Acting Managing Director at Logicom reports the most frequent comment from visiting retailers experiencing 4D for the first time was “Wow, that’s just amazing”!  He goes onto explain: “We were taken aback by the excitement 4D generated amongst retailers and were delighted with the brisk sales.”

VW4Dsmall

A futuristic, simulating headset is fundamental to Virtual Worlds 4D; when worn by the customer, it places them centre stage, in their designed KBB space. Designs in Virtual Worlds 4D appear with unsurpassed depth, scale and parallax, and are capable of creating the excitement and adrenalin rush akin to those experienced by gamers. The 110 degree viewing angle places the customer directly in the room, rather than looking in through a screen. The response to eye movement is immediate, facilitating 360 degree head-tracking and interaction with moving elements of the room, including opening cupboards, looking inside drawers and stepping into showers.

Nathan Maclean, Acting Managing Director at Logicom likens Virtual Worlds 4D to the core elements of interior design, alongside space, light, form, texture, colour, furniture and objects: “Virtual Worlds 4D provides out retailers with the missing 8th element of interior design. It places the physical body, or customer, inside the space, so as to be able to fully appreciate the design’s potential and stimulate the aspiration of ownership. The design becomes theirs. The experience is engaging, entertaining, compelling and leads customers to the point of ordering”.

Virtual Worlds by Logicom is keen to optimise sales opportunities for showroom retailers and envisages a Virtual Worlds 4D in-store area, dedicated to elevating the design experience. Virtual Worlds 4D is a significant element of a new Virtual Worlds 4D Showroom package, which combines the acclaimed  Virtual Worlds Professional 3D interactive CAD software, Viewer App and 2D Planning tool with the new 4D showroom technology.

Catalogue updates

Our team at the Virtual Worlds Towers have been hard at work leading to a number of catalogues updated and released over the last few Months. Maintained Virtual Worlds users can access the following from the Virtual Worlds User Centre:

Bisque

This new version, as well as an update to the main catalogue interface, now includes a selection of products from the Finn range of radiators.

Bosch

This new catalogue contains the complete range of ovens, hobs and cooker hoods available from Bosch. Note that this catalogue is only available to Virtual Worlds Kitchens users.

Duravit

This update adds the Delos, Esplanade, Karree, Ketho, Light and Mirrors, MirrorWall and Nahho ranges to the bath, furniture and sanitaryware Virtual Worlds catalogues.

Grant Westfield

This main Wall Panel catalogue includes multiPanel, polyPanel and tilePanel wall panels and extrusions, the worktops include the multiPanel Vanity Tops and hydroStone Vanity Tops.

The Tiling catalogue includes all the panels and extrusions for ceilingPanels, and twinFloorClick and twinFloorClick items.

Hansgrohe

This new version now includes the Logis range, as well as the ShowerSelect thermostatic valves.

Ideal Standard

This new version includes a wide range of their baths, furniture, sanitaryware, taps, showers and wastes available. Keep an eye out for further catalogue in the near future!

Ideal Standard – Sottini

The new version of this catalogue contains the complete range of sanitaryware, baths, taps showers and wastes available.

Kohler UK

A new version of the Kohler UK bathrooms catalogue is available which now includes the new Terrace range of furniture and sanitaryware.

Keuco

This new version of the Keuco bathroom furniture catalogue contains the complete range of bathroom furniture available from Keuco.Note that this catalogue is password protected for Keuco retailers.

Matki EauZone Plus

To coincide with the release of Virtual Worlds version 5.9, the standard and bespoke catalogues have been upgraded to include new functionality.

RAK

This catalogue contains a wide range of mirrors available from RAK Ceramics.

Roman

This update includes the complete range of shower enclosures, trays, bath screens and accessories available from Roman.

Siemens

This new catalogue contains a wide range of ovens, hobs, cooker hoods, dishwashers, fridges and freezers available from Siemens.

Symphony

The Lindo and Finishing Touches catalogues now contain the Naples range of fitted furniture and mirrors.

Utopia

This new version includes the complete range of fitted and modular furniture, sanitaryware, taps, accessories and tiles currently available from Utopia.

Victoria & Albert

This includes new products from the Amiata, Barcelona, Elwick and Maru ranges of baths and sanitaryware, and the new Staffordshire wall-mounted bath/shower mixer.

For any assistance with downloading or using any of the catalogues please do not hesitate to contact our support team on 01908 448899.

Virtual Worlds Leads the Way with Bosch Appliances

The latest version of Virtual Worlds Professional design software 5.9 has been released including the major addition of Bosch appliances and an enhanced kitchen catalogue. The Bosch catalogue has been widely requested by retailers and includes its latest induction hobs, ovens, extractor fans and microwaves.
The updated 5.9 version also provides practical new functions such as the ability to create layers, an upgraded rendering facility and area lighting, helping to make it a powerful design and merchandising package for retailers.

Bosch retailers now have access to powerful, 3D interactive CAD design. Once again, Virtual Worlds has come up with new, time-saving tools, which are sure to delight retailers and designers alike. The search facility is sophisticated, allowing users to choose by handy criterion such as energy rating, depth or style. Appliances such as extractor hood chimneys are parametrically scaled, to reflect their adjustable specification, whilst connection points automatically align appliances such as ovens with the appliance housing unit.

Andrew Jones, Bosch Group Marketing Manager “We are delighted that Bosch kitchen appliances are now included in the latest version of Virtual Worlds Professional software. As the winner of the Which? Best Home Appliance Brand 2013, Bosch is a popular choice amongst consumers and the development of a 3D interactive catalogue is the next step for complete visibility for both consumers and retailers. The option of an 3D service not only allows complete clarity to those looking to purchase but also for retailers to give a complete forecast of a kitchen design ensuring ease of installation and possible selling up opportunities – we’re looking forward to seeing it develop.”

The expanded, generic kitchen catalogue will likewise be a popular addition providing a comprehensive choice of kitchen furniture in every conceivable shape, style, size and colour.

For further information T: 01908 663848 www.virtualworlds.co.uk

Apprentices will now be trained to use Virtual Worlds CAD

Trainees at KBB National Training Group and Webs Furniture Training will now be educated in the use of Virtual Worlds Professional 3D CAD software as part of their NVQ courses, both for design and merchandising purposes.

Renée Mascari, chief executive of NTG, said: “It is vital that new entrants into the industry are equipped with the skills to use the latest technology and we are hugely grateful for Virtual Worlds’ support.”

Mike Vinten, sales director at Virtual Worlds, commented: “The training and facilities provided to apprentices at NTG and Webs is very impressive and Virtual Worlds is pleased to provide apprentices in the industry access to the latest CAD, to help them develop the necessary skill-set to succeed”.

Virtual Worlds Professional proves a winner at KBB Ldn

Virtual Worlds reported a hectic kbb Ldn show with not only kitchen and bathroom retailers, but architects and designers also queuing up to see demonstrations of Virtual Worlds Professional 5.8.3 – the company’s latest 3D interactive CAD software for the KBB sector.

“It was apparent that more and more architects and interior designers are embracing kitchens and bathrooms in their plans and were on our stand looking for a fast but sophisticated, real-life design package, compatible with AutoCAD.  Many were attracted to Virtual World’s high calibre visuals, images and unique customer fly-throughs, which are all strong selling tools, when it comes to booking business”, reported Mike Vinten, Sales & Marketing Director at Virtual Worlds.

The company has seen its sales of licenses increase by nearly 50% in the last 12 months, attributed in part to the scope of the software. “It was noticeable just how many visitors were looking for an all singing and dancing CAD package and loved the fact they could use Virtual Worlds to not only design a high-tech kitchen or bathroom, but also office, breakfast areas and other living spaces”, commented Vinten.

Virtual Worlds was particularly pleased with the number of kitchen designers visiting the stand, impressed by the re-vamped kitchen catalogue section, which now encompass a string of leading brands including JJO, Symphony and Omega, and a strong generic section for bespoke work.

For more information or to book a demonstration contact Virtual Worlds.

Well… KBB Show is over for yet another year!

And what a fantastic show it was as well and it all started off the week before, with the stand build!

From little acorns…

Boxes and rubbish everywhere… but the boys (Nick & Paul) worked really hard painting and drilling, until the stage was finally ready for us to dress – the best part! We had wanted something a little different from all the other stands and opted for a lovely room set – so we got busy with sofas, table, cabinets and picture frames. Although we suffered with a few stiff backs and aching joints, we could finally see some light at the end of the tunnel! And with a quick hoover and a last tweak, we were almost ready for the gates to open…

We were particularly proud of the hanging pictures! Our modelling team had generated some fabulous images for us to use and showcase the Virtual Worlds software. Everyone who visted the stand over the four days agreed wholeheartedly, they all looked simply stunning on the wall!

So for those that couldn’t make the show, here are a few of those images…

A beautiful dresser from Mereway Kitchens – product catalogue available in Virtual Worlds

And two fabulous images showing Virtual Worlds’ versatility within rooms such as the lounge and bedroom…

And with all our hard work now in place – all that was left was to be ready for Sunday morning. Before we knew it, the numbers of visitors to our stand began to grow – interest in Virtual Worlds was really promising and the day just flew by! Phew! Monday was much the same, with lots of new enquiries, plus many of our software users popping onto the stand for a natter.

With a change of staff for Tuesday and Wednesday, it was time to take a mooch around the show. Started off nicely with a lovely invite to a champagne reception and great talks by some very inspiring architects (sponsored by BD Online) – in particular Patrick Reardon from ReardonSmith Architects. Very much enjoyed! Then met with all our favourite advertisers, eased along with a much appreciated mojito from Luke Sutton – mobile cocktail barman from Speak Easy Bars very kindly hosted by Cosentino on their ‘always busy’ stand.

Wednesday was equally enjoyable (we may have sneaked another mojito) and continued to be busy, busy, busy – met with some really lovely people: manufacturers, retailers/designers, and interior designers. Saw some wonderful stands and took loads of orders for Virtual Worlds! What could be better! ;-)

There are some final images I just had to add (personal favourites) from a stand I visited at the show with really eyecatching baths, by the Mosaic Bath Company – would really love the yellow one in my bathroom – lush!

    

How great would these baths look in a Virtual Worlds product catalogue!

So.. to round up for KBB Birmingham 2012 – a great time was indeed had by all! But if you missed our stand and would like to know more about Virtual Worlds’ design software, then why not drop us an email at: sales@virtualworlds.co.uk or if you prefer to chat on the phone, call to speak to one of our sales team on: 01908 663848 – they’re a very friendly bunch!

Here’s to KBB 2013

www.virtualworlds.co.uk