Last December I tried to buy a new sofa. I say tried, because as I write this in April, I am no closer to settling into my new couch than I was all those months ago. I did tons of research, trawling through several websites and hundreds of products to whittle down a shortlist. After long deliberations with my wife we made our decision, and thought we’d found the perfect couch.
Once the sofa was delivered however, it didn’t work. I can’t really put my finger on what was wrong. It just didn’t look right. No matter how I rearranged the room, it was the wrong sofa. So, here I am, without a couch, having lost many hours of my life to a frustrating hunting expedition and nowhere nearer to having comfort whilst sitting in front of the telly.
Most of us have faced this problem to a greater or lesser extent when shopping online. No matter how good the product is, whether it’s furniture, a television or a new kitchen, we never really know if it’s the right one until we see it in our homes. Sure, we could travel to physical stores to check these things out, but who really has the time to do that? And doesn’t that negate the convenience that shopping online is supposed to provide?
Franke shakes things up
That’s why I’m so excited by what Franke is doing. Franke provides products for residential kitchens and bathrooms, professional foodservice, coffee preparation and washrooms. It understood the problems inherent in traditional online shopping and built a cutting-edge, 360° digital experience that allows customers to see exactly what its products look like before they buy. They’ve done this by using one of the hottest technologies around, Virtual Reality (VR).
If you want to buy a new kitchen from Franke you no longer need to bother with online snapshots or physical showrooms to get a feel for what would work. Instead, download Franke’s mobile app, which lets you access a virtual, 3-D environment. Not only can you “tour” the kitchen, you can also take photos of the VR environment with your own device to share on social media. You can customise every last detail—from colours and countertops to layouts and appliances—to build your perfect kitchen and see exactly what you would be getting.
Watch this video to learn more about the innovations at Franke:
Franke’s powerful app was built in partnership with implementation vendor One-Inside, using Adobe Experience Manager as the central content management system. What we’ve achieved together represents the future of retail experiences worldwide.
Bringing the showroom to your room
From a customer’s point of view, the benefits of virtual showrooms far outstrip physical alternatives. We can save time and effort, easily view endless configurations and options, and share your choices on social media to get other people’s opinions.
This is a win/win situation for both sides. Retailers adopting such services not only help build customer loyalty, but reap ancillary cost benefits. Franke can showcase new products immediately in this virtual environment and its products can travel the world in an instant. Virtual showrooms offer infinite floor space at a cost of absolutely nothing per square metre. Products can be viewed in a vast number of configurations that respond to specific local challenges. This is more than just customised shopping—it’s global customised shopping at scale.
Manufacturers adopting this approach will be able to involve the customer much more closely in product design. Franke can “soft launch” products virtually and collect feedback from customers to tweak the final product. Thus the digital showroom has the potential to be much more than a sales floor—it becomes a customer collaboration platform, allowing customers to be part of the brand in a meaningful way.
A brave new shopping world
In 1982, Orange Juice sang “rip it up and start again.” While they were singing about relationships, the sentiment applies equally well to the world of marketing. Industry leaders such as Franke are ripping up the tried-and-tested methods and starting again with unprecedented customer-centric experiences. Very soon, mishaps like my sofa debacle will be consigned to history by technological advances. Consumers will be able to tailor products to their unique needs and tastes. And this future will be here sooner than you think.