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

 

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.”

Maximise The Millennial Movement…

With a new report highlighting the millennial generation as the UK’s most active renovators and decorators, Virtual Worlds is reminding retailers of the importance of selling on the benefits of CAD technology to this captive audience.

According to a new report by Houzz, over half (57%) of millennial homeowners (aged 25 to 34) renovated their home in 2015, which was in line other age categories. However, millennials far outpaced other generations when it’s comes to delving into decorating – with 79% having recently redecorated compared with 71% of those aged 35 to 54 and 68% of those 55 and over.

Nathan Maclean, managing director of Virtual Worlds comments: “It is interesting to see this distinctive market shift as the younger catchment group begin to enter the housing market and invest in customising their new home. More so, with the report showing that the kitchen is the second most prevalent home improvement focus, shortly followed by the bathroom, it certainly reflects a buoyant opportunity for the KBB retailer.” 4D Bathroom

To help retailers take stock of this opportunity, Virtual Worlds’ innovative 4D CAD technology, the first of its kind in the UK, enables would-be buyers an incredibly realistic 4D simulation of physically being in their dream design. Users are able to immerse themselves in the room as an avatar; allowing them to get a feel for the space, how the designs works and even try out functions such as opening drawers.

Nathan adds: “As a generation already well accustomed to the marvels of modern day technology, millennials are a natural audience for 4D simulations; and in fact, from our experience, many actively seek it as part of their buying process.

“For the retailer looking to tap into this opportunity then, we’d recommend it as a way to attract business, create standout and driving sales – after all, once a customer has had the experience of walking around their dream kitchen or bathroom design it is very likely that they will be sold.”

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.

HiB Joins Virtual Worlds CAD Software

CAD technology company, Virtual Worlds has announced it has secured a brand new contract with bathroom brand, HiB.

HiB has recently signed a three-year agreement to feature on the popular Virtual Worlds professional CAD software. This means that all retailers signed up to the programme will now be able to generate interactive simulations of HiB products, to exacting proportions, to be included in their design consultations.

Managing Director, Nathan MacLean said: “In this technological age, where consumers are increasingly seeking to ‘try before they buy’, our CAD technology is playing an increasingly important part of the retail dynamic in the KBB world. In fact, most of our retailers have seen a significant increase in sales conversion rates by offering consultancy in this way.

“As such, we’re constantly looking to increase our manufacturer portfolio to provide true-to-life replicas of all the latest market innovations. It is therefore fantastic to have HiB, a business of such a high calibre and excellent product portfolio, on board.”

Ash Chilver, sales director at HiB, adds: “As a business, we’re always on the lookout for new ways to improve our retail proposition and we believe that Virtual Worlds will help customers to more adequately showcase our products in the various stages of the design process.”

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

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.

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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

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.

 

Virtual Worlds Creates New Role to Champion 4D Installations.

Virtual Worlds at Logicom, the innovation-led CAD company, has appointed Jamie Gibbs as its first Customer Experience Manager. The new role reflects the company’s expansion into software which delivers both advanced CAD design and consumer-interfacing experiences, including its new Showroom 4D. Gibbs will be an external-facing customer champion.

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Jamie Gibbs – New Customer Experience Manager

Nathan Maclean, Acting Managing Director at Logicom explains the thinking behind the new position: “Our recently launched Virtual Worlds One package provides customers with a formidable array of powerful design and selling tools, including the exciting new 4D technology. Take-up has been exceptional and Jamie will be providing invaluable after-sales service, helping customers to use all the technology to its full potential and tailor it to their business”.

Gibbs has in-depth knowledge of the Virtual Worlds suite of software, having worked in Support and Training for the last three years. He explains: “My prime focus will be new users, including those of our 4D showroom software, providing hands-on support from the very out-set, so that they quickly get up to speed. The 4D technology is awesome and I’ll be going the extra mile to make sure our customers get the most from it.”

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 and 2D Planning. Logicom is behind Virtual Worlds and it is understood that more innovations are currently in development, including a pricing module, which will be made available to all Virtual Worlds One subscribers.

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