The future is here - our showrooms have gone virtual!
Putting the customer at the centre of everything we do has always been one of our biggest and most important aspirations, and now our bathroom showrooms are able to do this in the more literal sense thanks to the wonders of virtual reality.
As part of our existing partnership with computer aided design (CAD) supplier Virtual Worlds, we were already capable of producing photographic quality images to bring the bathroom ideas of our customers to life. And now, a more recent technological upgrade has meant that we’re able to take this a step further.
Showroom Development Director Joe Donofrio explains: “The 4D program allows us to put our customers into their new bathroom and even turn on the tap or flush the toilet. This technology really sets our customer experience apart from our competitors.”
"The 4D program allows us to put our customers into their new bathroom and even turn on the tap or flush the toilet. This technology really sets our customer experience apart from our competitors."
And there have been clear benefits right across the board, with happier customers and a service with fewer bumps in the road. Joe adds: “Overall, the technology has helped in a couple of different ways. Firstly, it helps to eliminate what’s known as ‘buyer’s remorse’. After leaving the showroom, customers can sometimes begin to worry if what they have bought will look and fit as they wanted. If they have experienced being in their new bathroom, these worries will be eased.
“The second benefit is the reduction in changes post-delivery. These changes are a frustration for the installer and they usually occur because the product or layout ordered does not match the customer’s expectations - but again, if they have already set foot in their virtual new bathroom, their expectation matches the reality.”
In addition to this, showrooms now have fitted screens that are visible to the customer. This screen shows what the person taking the virtual tour can see, which means the experience is not just limited to the person with the headset.
The first showroom to be fitted with the 4D technology was Sheffield, which was refitted and reopened in August 2019. Since then, seven showrooms have undergone the same transformation including the addition of this 4D technology.
The program is always working in the background, which means that switching to the 4D experience involves nothing more than clicking an icon. What’s more, it’s almost instantaneous, which means the customer doesn’t have to wait for the it to load.
And unsurprisingly, it has been a real hit with those customers so far. Joe adds: “It’s a really engaging process and is a far better experience for the customer than just looking at a picture. A lot of our customers have never experienced VR before and really enjoy it. It creates a bit of theatre for colleagues and really gets the customer engaged - and it is always easier to sell to an engaged customer!”
Joe also revealed that virtual appointments are set to become an important part of our quest to gain market share moving forward, as the business looks to make the most of this unique offering. Though showrooms are currently open to trade account holders only, they are set to re-open to general customers next month.
He revealed: “We have also been offering virtual consultations with our customers. People have generally become more accustomed to using technology in their own personal lives to keep in contact with friends and family during the pandemic, so being able to offer a virtual consultation using these technologies have enabled us to continue to support our customers.”