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.”