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

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.

Virtual Worlds ONE event, supported by TOTO

Last week saw Virtual Worlds out and about meeting retailers and designers, at our 3 day Virtual Worlds ONE event, which was kindly hosted by TOTO at their London showroom.

Toto day

We wish to express our thanks to TOTO, who provided a great venue and warm hospitality. The space made available to us was perfect.

At the event, we met new and existing clients, where we were able to discuss their specific business needs, as well as present our new Virtual Worlds ONE suite of products. Virtual Worlds ONE is an all-inclusive subscription service that includes-

  • Virtual Worlds Professional
  • Online Pricing Module
  • Remote 3D viewer
  • AutoCAD Export
  • Web Planner
  • Unlimited classroom training

and of course….  our revolutionary 4D showroom, that allows your customer to try on their future new room, for size.

TOTO Day 2

Thank you to all that took time out of their busy day to be with us.

If you haven’t done so already, a visit to the  TOTO showroom, 140-142 St John St, London EC1V 4UA, is well worthwhile. They have impressive products, working displays, and a very friendly team.

Toto Day 3

If you would like to find out more about Virtual Worlds ONE and how is can help your business, contact us on 01908 663848 or email sales@virtualworlds.co.uk

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.)

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.”

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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.

Virtual Worlds New App Brings Design into the Home

 

Virtual Worlds, the popular KBB CAD software from Logicom, has launched the Viewer App for designers to share their 3D interactive designs with customers.

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Compatible with Apple or Android mobile devices, the Viewer App allows designers to create conceptual designs using Virtual Worlds Professional and then upload them for viewing three dimensionally in the App. Likewise, designers can email a link to a customer for them to access proposed designs or a gallery of previous projects, at their convenience.

The Viewer App has multiple interfaces, including touch screen swipe and on-screen navigation.  Quick and responsive, the Virtual Worlds App brings to life designers’ plans, demonstrating them in an interactive format. Customers can walk through their room, on-screen, and view it from any angle; open cupboards and doors, look inside a shower, take a close-up of the tiling format, all on their tablet or Smartphone.

app

Nathan MacLean, Acting Managing Director at Logicom sees the Viewer App as an exciting, additional selling tool:  “The Viewer App provides retailers with a powerful, portable sales tool, which shortens the sales process and showcases their designs in a customer friendly, engaging way. The concept of a customer, ipad in hand, standing in their actual kitchen as they tap their way around photo realistic visuals of their new layout, is now an exciting reality”.

The Viewer App has been developed by Logicom, creators of Virtual Worlds. The hosting service, available on an annual subscription, is provided through the Virtual Worlds’ cloud and is therefore secure, controlled and confidential. Once uploaded, plans can be accessed for a time managed period by invited customers only, even if the retailer or designer is off-line.

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.

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