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Digitising the customer experience

Date Added: 08.06.2021

Digitising the customer experience

 

The past few years have seen an explosion in digital innovation, and the bathroom industry is no exception.

 

No longer are digital scales or bathroom TVs at the cutting edge of bathroom design; now, consumers can enjoy a smart shower, preheated to the perfect temperature, or a Bluetooth-enabled mirror to play their favourite music through.

 

If that’s not enough, consumers can even buy a self-cleaning toilet with a built-in nightlight, such as the GROHE multi award-winning Sensia Arena Shower Toilet.

 

Prompted by a sensor, the lid opens and closes automatically while the nightlight guides the way in the dark. A remote control or phone app programmes the personal cleaning process, using water followed by a gentle drying function. Users can even select their preferred temperature, spray pattern, pressure and more, saving their preferred settings as a profile.

 

What’s more, the toilet even cleans itself thanks to its powerful flushing technology and anti-bacterial spray arms, while an automatic flush kit can be added for a completely touch-free.

 

Something for everyone

In more recent days, digital technology in the bathroom is certainly no longer the preserve of the ultra-rich, and more and more retailers are harnessing the power of tech even before their customers spend a penny.

 

The most widespread examples are, of course, websites and social media.

 

Our 2020 Industry Report found that 95 per cent of retailers have some form of website to showcase their ranges, while 91 per cent of them had a social media presence on at least one platform.

 

Making the most of tech such as this allows customers to begin their bathroom journey from the comfort of their own homes, checking out styles and prices before venturing out.

 

As such, it’s vital that retailers are making the most of what is available – and remember, the majority of this is free to set up and use – to make sure they’re getting their brand in front of potential clients.

 

Bringing the bathrooms home

But the innovation doesn’t stop there. Virtual showrooms are the next big thing – hastened, as is so often the case at the moment, by the pandemic.

 

With showrooms forced to close their doors for the majority of the past 12 months, many retailers had to think outside the box.

 

At Ideal Bathrooms, we know that a number of showroom owners began offering virtual consultations; narrowing down consumers’ choices via email before walking them round the showroom via Zoom or Teams, allowing them to see the products in real life.

 

One such example is York-based bathroom supplier and installer Bluewater Bathrooms. Speaking to The Ideal Bathroom magazine, owner Adrian Lount said: “Our sales remained largely static throughout lockdown, and that’s mostly down to technology.

 

“We used video calls to help our customers choose bathrooms by walking them through the showroom, so they could see everything. This allowed them to still progress with the project that they were planning, despite not being able to visit the showroom in person.

 

“It helps that we knew the right questions to ask to narrow their choices down, so we could then just show them the relevant products, although that’s how we work in person anyway.”

 

Further to this is the adoption of virtual reality to truly bring bathrooms to life.

 

Virtual Worlds (VW) is an industry-standard CAD design tool which can be used to create 3D bathrooms, allowing customers to immerse themselves in a 3D or 4D virtual model, with the ability to move around, interact with products and make changes.

 

The technology is perfect to help retailers to work with showroom customers to let them experience their bathroom design before work begins.

 

Many of our 30 suppliers already have their catalogues built in the Virtual World model, meaning users can download and drop branded products into their bathroom layouts with ease.

 

The VW team have also built the full set of our own private label Essential products to create photorealistic renders of images that would otherwise not be available and to design display sets for installation in customer showrooms.

 

While life is slowly returning to normal following Covid-19, we believe many of these digital innovations are here to stay.

 

Arming customers with as much information as possible can only ever be a good thing, whether this is allowing them to browse and buy online or see how their new bathroom will look in 3D or 4D.

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