20th Anniversary Roadshows

Here at Virtual Worlds we are celebrating two decades of innovation by touring the UK with our very latest virtual reality (VR) technology.

Virtual Worlds turns 20 in July, and we’re marking the occasion by inviting KBB retailers to try out the very latest innovations during a roadshow at various locations throughout the year. We plan to show designers the power of virtual reality and offer advice on how it can help to generate sales and increase conversion rates.IMAG1252

The tour started at leading sanitary ware manufacturer Geberit’s head office in Warwick on May 8-9, and is followed by a series of events to mark Clerkenwell Design Week next week. A visit to Dansani, Brighton takes place in July with Roman Showers, County Durham, scheduled for September, and more locations and dates to be announced later next month.

The first roadshow at Geberit was well attended with visitors able to try out our 4D Theatre system, receive training on their existing Virtual Worlds system and to experience our virtual reality (VR) plans for the future. 4D Virtual Reality Headset

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.

For KBB retailers 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.

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Customers will be able to immerse themselves in a virtual version of their bathroom

Virtual Worlds’ 4D Showroom software, for example, allows users to enter and walk around the proposed room from a first person perspective. It features an up-to-date catalogue of more than 100 popular manufacturers.

Nathan Maclean, managing director of Virtual Worlds, said: “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.

“It’s something that you really do have to experience, which is why we’re inviting retailers along to celebrate our 20th birthday with us by trying the very latest technology on the market for themselves.”

For more information please visit www.virtualworlds.co.uk or contact 01908 663848

 

From Virtual to Reality

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Ten years ago the virtual reality (VR) concept would render images of cheesy 80’s Sci-Fi’s and nascent gaming technology, appearing more like a fantasy for technologists with little bearing in the real world.

That is, of course, until now. Today, VR is not so much creeping but rather leaping into the mainstream.

Only last year we saw Oculus, Samsung and Sony get seriously big on VR, keenly competing to achieve media share for their latest headsets and this trend shows no sign of abating anytime soon.

But, you may ask, can VR really have a tangible business impact in the KBB world? The answer is irrevocably yes, and for those retailers who aren’t already using it the (not so virtual) reality is that it really is no longer a case of ‘if’ but rather ‘when’…..

More in Store

For the large part, VR allows KBB retainers to create that all-important USP in what, with the dominance of e-commerce, has become a keenly competitive market.

Today’s abundance of online KBB retailers, many of which offer a fast delivery and cheap prices, mean it can be all too tempting for consumers to buy their kitchen or bathroom on the Internet from the comfort of their home.

This, in turn, has put increased pressure on traditional retailers to create a 4D Plus imagetangible differentiation to win business. 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.’1

Here, the remit then is about thinking outside the box and applying the use of the technology to a retail advantage: cue the VR revolution.

The integration of VR with design consultancy quite simply takes the customer experience to another level. Virtual Worlds’ 4D CAD technology, for example, delivers high quality, virtual reality and an interactive buying experience via a futuristic headset whereby users can realise a 4D simulation of physically being in their dream kitchen or bathroom design.

Sitting comfortably in their chair complete with an avatar (which is even matched with appearance) they can experience every socket, every stitch, each and every fine detail of their concept and how it may look and feel in real-time. Want to check how much space is between the island unit and the oven? Check. Extend drawers to ensure sufficient storage? Check. Operate functional fittings such as magic corner units? Check.

This digital transformation of blended reality experience with product design takes the ‘try before you buy’ concept to whole new level and it is a very powerful business tool.

From our experience, most consumers will struggle to grasp an overhead, 3D plan or flat render, however realistic it looks, yet our 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.

4d KitchenThe result is the end of ‘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 – and given the fact that two thirds2 (63%) of shoppers admit they don’t get the best experience online this makes for a very appealing proposition.

Testament to this, here at Virtual Worlds, our customers have reported an average 50 per cent increase in sales conversions since using our CAD technology – with some reporting a conversion rate of 80%.

Future Gazing 

While VR has certainly come a long way in recent years, it really is just beginning.

Having already launched the industry’s first 4D CAD software in 2016, here at Virtual Worlds we are all geared up for the launch of the next generation of product which will truly blur the lines between virtual and reality like never before. And we have lots more in the pipeline.

Indeed, while good customer service and expert design consultancy will always be the pinnacles of success in the KBB world, the blending lines of VR for consumer and enterprise use cannot be ignored. It is the future and what all retailers should be aspiring to in this age of digital transformation.

 Sources

1 http://store.mintel.com/bathrooms-and-bathroom-accessories-uk-august-2013

2 http://www.information-age.com/industry/uk-industry/123459020/two-thirds-shoppers-unhappy-online-customer-experience

Winner Of ‘SHOWROOM DESIGNER OF THE YEAR’ Award Announced

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The winning designer was Emma Knight of Elliotts Lymington Living Spaces

The winner of the inaugural ‘Sottini Showroom Designer of the Year’ competition has been announced – with the design by Emma Knight of Elliotts Lymington Living Spaces Showroom scooping the £2000 prize after being selected by a judging panel made up of leading industry names. The winning entry was commended for combining style and innovation with excellence and simplistic functionality in its design.

Luxury bathroom brand Sottini ran the competition to find the nation’s pride of showroom design, in partnership with Virtual Worlds, the UK’s leader in CAD technology for the KBB sector. Entrants had to submit their design proposals in a 3D CAD format, using a software package such as Virtual Worlds, to include all key elements of the bathroom and with an ethos on creating a showroom that was inspiring and innovative, but also realistic.

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Judges got to experience the designs in virtual reality using Virtual Worlds 4D Theatre
 It received a great response from the Designer community across the UK, with a final shortlist of 20 entries considered by judges. The judging panel was made up of industry experts from Barratt Homes, Potton Homes, Millwood Designer Homes, Colemore Tang and Conran Design, as well as Virtual Worlds, Ideal Standard and EKBB magazine. The judging took place at The Bathroom Showroom in London with the judges initially looking at the designs on paper before getting to experience the rooms in Virtual Worlds 4D Theatre software. The unique design presentation from Virtual Worlds allowed the judges to explore the rooms in virtual reality to fully appreciate the design, before finally choosing their winner.

Such was the quality of entries in fact, a further two entries received a highly commended accolade: Ben Mellor of Oakland’s (Leicester) and Dean Saoud-Easton of Just Add Water (Kings Cross, London).

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Winner, Emma Knight, with highly commended designers Ben Mellor of Oakland’s (left) and Dean Saoud-Easton of Just Add Water.

Steve Breen, Sottini Sales Director, comments:  “The aim of this competition was to reward and acknowledge the talents of the UK’s finest KBB designers who continue to go the extra mile when it comes to creating truly stunning showrooms which excite, entice and inspire customers.

“We received a fantastic response and I’d like to say thank you to everyone who entered and congratulate the winner, but also add that the standard of designs submitted was testament to the talent and hard work of the designers who dedicate thousands of hours to creating truly stunning showrooms destined to ‘wow’ customers – and in doing so demonstrated the multitude of combinations that our Sottini collection offers.”

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Virtual World’s MD Nathan Maclean presenting the award.

Nathan Maclean, managing director at Virtual Worlds, adds:  “We really do have some of the most hardworking, talented KBB designers here in the UK, so it is great to have an opportunity to give them the credit they deserve.”

Winning bathroom designer, Emma Knight, said: “I love doing what I do, so I am absolutely thrilled to have won this award and really enjoyed creating the design for the competition.

“The split levels allow the stylish products to stand out against a stunning back drop, as well as increasing the sense of space – I can imagine relaxing for hours in this bathroom!

“My manager, Andrew, gives me great support and I’ve learnt so much from him. Winning this award has given me inspiration and increased confidence to do more fabulous designs for our customers at Elliotts Living Spaces.”

Northern Heights for Virtual Worlds

Virtual Worlds is strengthening its presence in the market place yet again by adding a new regional sales executive to its busy team.

Matthew Froggatt has joined the firm, which develops market-leading 3D & 4D Design software for the KBB industry, to raise awareness of the product and drive sales in the business across the north of England.

IMG_0043 Matthew has six years’ experience working in the home improvement industry. He joins the team from Homebase in Bolton where he has been project managing, remodelling and helping with the designs and layouts for his customers’ homes.

Nathan MacLean, managing director at Virtual Worlds, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Matthew to the team. His work within the retail and KBB sector has given him a wealth of knowledge in the industry and he has an innate understanding about Virtual World’s and what we are about.

Matthew’s knowledge around technology and design 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 packages when they visit retailers, thereby allowing them to create their dream kitchen or bathroom.”

For more information on Virtual Worlds, please visit www.virtualworlds.co.uk.

Scotland is Reaching New Virtual Worlds

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.DSCN2058

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.”

Virtual Worlds and Sottini Take Up Residence at Potton Homes!

Virtual Worlds and Sottini are teaming up to break new ground by installing the latest 4D Theatre CAD technology system in a Potton show home on site at its St Neots development in Cambridgeshire.

As part of this industry first, Virtual Worlds will provide access to a wide range of bathroom layouts from Sottini, the timeless bathroom brand built on a heritage of quality and innovation in design, which customers can then tailor for the home they are interested in designing while visiting the Potton show home. This innovative technology allows the homeowner to virtually walk around and sample their bathroom before they order.

In what is akin to a show home of the future, Virtual Worlds’ market-leading 4D Bathroomsoftware uses a 4D headset to enable customers to enter the designed space, experiencing it in full virtual reality and having the opportunity to walk around the space, just as they would in the real world.

The software replicates the dimensions and layout of the room exactly, with customers even able to interact with objects around the room just as they would in real life, such as by opening and closing drawers, cupboards and doors.

The exceptional Sottini collection will be displayed in exquisite detail through the Virtual Worlds software, with customers able to experience the beautiful design possibilities of the range to its fullest. The result will be a stand out showroom which will help Potton’s partner Cambridge Kitchen & Bathrooms to drive sales and improve customer experience.

The scheme will see the system installed at the Potton Self Build Show Centre for a period of six months. It will be the first time 4D CAD technology has ever been used in a show home environment.

Nathan Maclean, managing director of Virtual Worlds, commented: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Potton and Sottini to deliver a unique experience for self-builders.

“Designing and building a bespoke home is the biggest transaction most people will make in their lifetime. Our software will help to enhance the buying experience as well as provide the peace of mind that comes from virtually sampling the room and their chosen products before investing, ultimately resulting in a product they are happy with. It’s the ultimate try before you buy experience.”

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Fae Perkins at Potton, said: “We’re always looking for new ways of improving the experience for individuals designing their dream home with us. We’re sure Virtual Worlds will prove to be a popular addition to our show centre and will help to ensure that customers are 100 per cent happy with their completed property.”

Steve Breen, Sottini Sales Director, added: “This is a unique opportunity for buyers to experience their dream bathroom before even a single tile has been laid and bathroom suite has been installed. A bathroom is a huge investment but this show home gives individuals purchasing through Potton  the perfect chance to ensure their room will be money well spent.”

For further information please visit www.virtualworlds.co.uk

Dynamic Duo Join Virtual Worlds

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.

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Brandon will cover London and the South East regions.

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.

New sales representative for Virtual Worlds design software.
Miles will cover the Midlands and South West regions.

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.”

For more information on Virtual Worlds, please visit www.virtualworlds.co.uk.

Virtual Worlds 4D Reaches Big ’50’ Milestone

It has certainly been a successful first-half of the year for innovation led CAD company, Virtual Worlds – which now has over 50 KBB retailers signed up to its ground breaking 4D technology.

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Virtual Worlds 4D in use at a retailer event for TOTO

Launched in October 2015 on a pre-order basis, Virtual Worlds 4D delivers a high quality, virtual reality and an interactive buying experience via a futuristic headset. In a complete industry-first, users are able to experience a realistic 4D simulation of physically being in their dream kitchen or bathroom design via an avatar; allowing them to get a feel for the space, how the design works, and even try out functions such as opening drawers.

The 4D feature comes as part of Virtual Worlds’ comprehensive ONE package which includes an innovative range of design and selling tools designed to enhance the buying experience and, in turn, improve sales conversion rates for the retailer.

Nathan Maclean, managing director at Virtual Worlds comments: “As a complete industry first for the UK market, we knew that pre-order take up would be strong, however to already have over 50 retailers on board is incredible.

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Virtual Worlds 4D technology reduces consumer fear associated with large purchases.

“The reality is that a new kitchen or bathroom is a huge investment for the average consumer, so it’s important that they get it right. With this in mind, our 4D offer takes CAD technology to a whole new level by allowing them to not only see how their design will look but get a feel of how it will work through the motion of actually being in the room. In this way, it effectively alleviates the fear factor associated to buying these big ticket items.”

He adds: “The feedback from retailers who have already implemented the technology has been fantastic and we look forward to more retailers adding 4D to their showrooms this year.”

For more information on Virtual Worlds, please visit www.virtualworlds.co.uk.

Virtual Worlds Wins Best Software Brand Award!

The Globe Theatre Venue. BKU Awards
The Globe Theatre set for the BKU Awards celebrations.

Thursday 23rd of June saw the second BKU Awards evening take place at the stunning Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Launched in 2015, the Awards were created to recognise the retailers, brands, people and services that make the KBB industry fantastic. Virtual Worlds proudly sponsored the awards for the second year running, managing director Nathan Maclean comments “ Sponsorship of the BKU Awards allows us to further contribute to the benefit of an industry that is at the source of our existence. The BKU Awards is the perfect event in which to connect with likeminded people and businesses in celebration of the talent and achievements within the KBB industry.”

Paul Sinha using Virtual Worlds 4D technology
The evening’s host, comedian Paul Sinha, used a Virtual World’s 4D headset during his performance!

Over 250 members of the industry turned out to see the stars of the bathroom and kitchen industry pick up their awards and celebrate the achievements of the past twelve months. A number of Virtual Worlds customers and manufacturer partners picked up awards such as New Bathroom Retailer of the Year for Beyond Bathroom and Multiple Retailer of the Year award for CP Hart along with Best Brand awards for Hansgrohe, Roca and HiB amongst others. Nathan Maclean was proud to present the Best Bathroom Taps Brand to Crosswater who work closely with Virtual Worlds.

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Nathan receives the Best Software Brand on behalf of Virtual Worlds.

 

 

The Virtual Worlds team who attended the evening were absolutely delighted to hear the winner of Best Software Brand announced as “Virtual Worlds” accompanied by a supportive cheer throughout the venue. Nathan Maclean, who collected the award, said “Having the hard work of the team recognised and voted for by the industry is a very proud moment and I would like to thank all those who voted for and have supported us over the last twelve months. We look forward to continued success in 2017!”

 

Virtual Worlds Leads CAD Development at KBB 2016

 

The hive of activity on stand G100 was unmissable at this year’s KBB Birmingham, as retailers, designers and suppliers were able to experience the latest technology developed by Logicom – Virtual Worlds.

The Virtual Worlds team put on an impressive show with classroom style training and presentations running alongside one-on-one demonstrations. Their iconic yellow chairs and 4D headsets transported a mass of visitors into the virtual world of bathrooms and kitchens, where they themselves became avatars within the designed space.

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Nathan Maclean- Managing Director comments, “KBB 2016 has been a major success for Virtual Worlds. Our increased investment in the industry has secured record breaking orders from suppliers and retailers, who were clearly impressed with the advancements made”.

Virtual Worlds ONE is their all-inclusive subscription service that provides a unified future ready solution for designing, pricing and presenting room designs.

As an extension to Virtual Worlds 4D, ‘Room in Box’ sees end consumers take Virtual Worlds Room in a Boxtheir new kitchen or bathroom home at time of purchase, in what is a retailer branded Google cardboard 4D viewer. With the 4D design posted to their smart phone, which is then placed inside the viewer, the end consumer will wow their friends at home as they step inside their new Virtual World.