Virtual Worlds Roadshow

On a mission to make Virtual Worlds synonymous with successful KBB showrooms nationwide, we are running a series of roadshow events up and down the country. With each event hosted by our manufacturing partners, they provide your business with the perfect opportunity to network with suppliers, engage with peers and learn how Virtual Worlds is providing businesses like yours with the tools to succeed in a constantly evolving market.

The video features the highlights from our last roadshow event hosted by Roman in Durham.

Our next roadshow event is on the 22nd and 23rd of November and is hosted by Ultra Finishing in Halifax. Book here to select your day.

Virtual Worlds- Shaping the Future of KBB Retail!

Virtual Worlds Scoops Gold At BKU Awards!

Virtual Worlds, has been crowned Best Software Brand at the BKU Awards.

BKU Awards win smaller
The Virtual Worlds Team accepting the award for Best Software Brand

For the second year running Virtual Worlds beat off stiff competition to scoop the title in recognition of its design, innovation and influence in the KBB market.

The prestigious event was attended by the bathroom and kitchen industry’s most respected professionals, who gathered to celebrate standards of excellence in retail, design, innovation and remarkable achievements of the sector.

With judging open to the KBB industry across the nation, the results are a true reflection of a brand’s influence within the sector. The awards, which were hosted by funnyman Jimmy Carr, were well attended with professionals from a whole host of backgrounds gunning for the top accolades on the evening.

BKU Awards win Virtual Worlds best software brand
MD, Nathan MacLean with the evening’s host Jimmy Carr.

Nathan Maclean, managing director at Virtual Worlds, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded Best Software Brand at this year’s BKU awards.

“As a business committed to breaking boundaries in KBB software technology, we are constantly looking to the future of CAD technology in order to further support retailers and revolutionise the industry.

“With continuing growth, continued client investment and strong customer feedback, this really is only the beginning for us! From production, through to delivery and support, we are continuously evolving and it is this combination that has clearly given us a winning formula.

“We are thrilled to be recognised by BKU in such a highly competitive category and it’s amazing to see we are leading the way in developing innovative technology systems for the KBB industry. We can’t wait to see what the future holds – hopefully it includes a few more awards in the years to come!”

Virtual Worlds Releases Industry First…

Virtual Worlds is breaking boundaries with its latest development in virtual reality (VR) design software, 4D Theatre, which brings a level of spatial awareness and immersion never seen before in the KBB industry.

4D Theatre assettIn contrast to previous iterations of the software, 4D Theatre ditches the controller and allows customers to walk around the space freely via a specially-designed headset. This tracks their body and hand movements and relays them onto the screen, making customers feel like they have jumped into the room created by the designer.

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Customers physically walk around their designed space
Products from more than 100 different manufacturers such as Ideal Standard, Crosswater, Roca and Vitra are represented within the system, increasing the level of immersion and allowing users to do anything from step inside a shower to open up a cabinet drawer simply by physically walking over and touching them.

Consumers can freely move around the room in the headset, giving retailers a platform to showcase the full potential of the space – while giving designers the opportunity to experiment with a range of configurations quickly and easily.

They can also drill down on their favourite products in inspect mode. This offers an in-depth description of the product specifications – making the purchasing decision easier and helping to prevent dreaded buyers’ remorse.

Virtua Worlds CAD software
Nathan Maclean, MD of Virtual Worlds

Nathan Maclean, managing director at Virtual Worlds, said: “4D Theatre is our most exciting and immersive product to date and it will undoubtedly help to deliver a futuristic retail experience for bricks and mortar KBB retailers.

“Our software is all about providing customers with peace of mind, giving them the information at their fingertips to ensure they have an informed decision throughout the design process.

“This new software not only provides customers with greater insight before they commit to a purchase, but also further equips retailers with the tools to increase footfall, shorten the buying cycle and increase revenue.”

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.

New sales representative for Virtual Worlds 3d design software
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.

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* 

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.

Best Software Brand Award goes to Virtual Worlds
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!”

 

Version 5.10 released

We’re pleased to announce the launch of Virtual Worlds version 5.10 which is available to download now from the user centre.

This new version improves the display of the Virtual Worlds homepage, allowing you to easily define your own text fields, view social media feeds and improve how templates are defined. You can also take advantage of the updated Tile Catalogue Browser interface and the new advanced moulding features which allow for faster application of architraves, skirtings and covings. For those of you using the Virtual Worlds 4D Showroom or the Design Viewer, there are new buttons available to simplify and speed up the process.

 

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.

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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.)

New version of Virtual Worlds released!

Virtual Worlds Transforms CAD with New Rapid Rendering

The latest generation of Virtual Worlds Professional (5.9) has been launched (January 2015); it delivers higher quality photo-realistic renders, 25% faster than ever before. The significant advances have been introduced to save designers and retailers time and further improve customers’ quote to order conversions.

A new facility using ‘layers’ has also been introduced to the latest Virtual Worlds, which impacts the 2D and 3D plan formats.  When presenting options to a client, designers can now rapidly flick between alternative 3D layouts, highlighting style, colour and budget options. At 2D level, specific dimensions can now be isolated, which will help reduce installation errors.

Roman shower room
Showing off the new rapid rendering with a Roman shower-room

Nathan MacLean, Acting Managing Director at Logicom explains the driving force behind the latest generation of Virtual Worlds Professional: “As a former KBB designer and a CAD user myself, I understand the importance of meeting mainstream expectations and delivering exciting new and optional functionality for advanced users, all at ever-increasing speeds. Our development team works closely with CAD users and we are already looking ahead to later in the year when we anticipate launching an impressive real-time lighting option, for added impact at presentation stage”.

The new Virtual Worlds Professional is available free of charge to current users, along with the latest new product catalogues from leading bathroom, kitchen and bedroom manufacturers.  Virtual Worlds supports its CAD software with a comprehensive training programme and a manned, technical hotline for answering any individual queries.

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

Logicom does BBC Children in Need

On Monday 17th November we went from your every day office workers to becoming our very own heroes to raise money for the great charity, BBC Children in Need. We were supported in our efforts by the wonderful Admiral Costumes in Newton Longville who provided many fancy dress costumes to ensure we all looked the part.

Logicom to the rescue!

Not only did we transform into heroes but we also hosted a hero themed bake off competition! Lots of scrummy cakes were baked and consumed leaving us all dreading the scales but definitely worth it as we raised £100.90 by eating cake alone! Not bad for a day’s work.

To encourage donations from customers, we offered one lucky donator the chance to win a year’s rental of a Virtual Worlds licence as part of a prize draw for all those donating through our Just Giving webpage. We’d like to say a huge thank you to all who donated and special congratulations to our prize draw winner, Plumbrite in Suffolk.

We had great fun organising this event and appreciate all of the support we’ve received, it’s been a great success and so far we’ve raised a total of £431.90!

If you’ve not already made a donation, don’t panic! Our Just Giving page; www.justgiving.com/Logicom is still open so please dig deep and let’s help the Children in Need.