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From tips on optimising your online presence and making the most of your showroom, to the business opportunities opened up by computer aided design (CAD), Compusoft offer their expert guidance on how you can increase your bottom line in bathrooms.
According to president and CEO of Retailplus, Chris Buecker, for 86% of people across Europe, the journey towards making a purchase begins online. Local customers, even when familiar with your bricks-and-mortar store and offline branding, are likely to be deterred from visiting at all if they are unable to browse a website as a first point-of-call. In the internet era, having an online presence is critical for bringing in business.
As an early priority, it’s advisable to create brand consistency between online and offline components. Your website should replicate your shopfront, and in fact be treated in much the same way. Just as prime pieces are showcased at the front of display windows as and when they arrive, a website should be regularly updated with new content to keep visitors interested and coming back for more. A blog function can also provide fertile opportunities to demonstrate your expertise, at the same time as engaging with potential customers.
Online planning softwares allowing customers to mock-up their own designs and visualise their new bathrooms are also becoming increasingly popular fixtures of bathroom retailing websites. Incorporating such interactive features can allow for the development of collaborative relationships with customers, making them feel valued and reassured in the importance of their design ideas in the buying process.
Once your website is up and running with brilliant content and value-adding features, you need to ensure that it gets seen. Being found on search engines is critical and the main consideration as a local retailer would be to focus on local search keywords that would help you perform better than the competition for people in your area. Social media is also key, and you can use all of the familiar platforms to showcase your work and attract new customers.
For store owners on a high street, or anywhere with high volumes of foot traffic, it’s imperative to cultivate a shopfront that wows. Beautiful or unusual products likely to catch the eye of passers-by should be kept front and centre. Employing colour schemes can also be effective in encouraging punters to stop and look more closely. Most crucially, your window display must showcase the very best of what you do, and it must be updated regularly to reflect modern trends.
Ripples Managing Director, Paul Crow, comments “If your shop front doesn’t excite people to want to come in then it’s not doing its job. It’s your best advert and needs to emotionally engage with passers-by so that they remember you, know what you do and recognise you as their local bathroom showroom – even if only for another day.”
Giving visibility to well-known and trusted brands is also believed by some to help build customer confidence in the company. Large manufacturing brands spending huge amounts on national advertising accumulate a level of recognition that may inspire more faith in potential customers than lesser-known or new brands are able. As InHouse Inspired Room Design owner Wayne Dance suggests, associating with bigger brands via your exteriors could transfer this customer confidence to your own company, and reduce perceived risk.
Showroom displays should be aspirational, and life-like enough that customers can easily visualise what the products might look like in their own homes. Fully accessorised displays, complete with soaps, soft towels, artwork, and even pot-plants, can help to stimulate customer imaginations, and introduce a sense of genuine attainability.
Incorporating working displays can also give your showroom a competitive advantage. This is particularly important in instances where products promise unique features that customers will like to see proven prior to committing to purchase.
Bill Miller, managing director for the Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group (KBBG) adds: “As we all know, seeing is believing, which provides the opportunity to engage the customer on their visit to your showroom. Demonstrating the latest technology is always a wow factor, and it makes the customer think about trading up to the next level, which is always good for business.”
Combining working displays with cleverly-placed marketing materials offering further information can be particularly persuasive. Customers feeling confidently informed are ultimately more likely to proceed to buy.
As HiB marketing director Steve Kaye continues: “Many “wow” products have hidden features, like demister pads behind mirrors. These benefits are often overlooked in the showroom environment. So by using cleverly-placed marketing material highlighting these features the consumer will be fully informed as to what they are buying and the benefits of the products.”
Computer Aided Design (CAD)
Like a life-like display, a CAD render can help your customers visualise products in their own home. However, unlike a display or a hand-drawn design, a 3D visual can be changed in an instant, demonstrating the selection of options available to customers in-situ.
Justine Bullock, co-owner of award-winning showroom The Tap End comments: “We find 3D visualisation software invaluable and we couldn’t function as efficiently or respond to client feedback as quickly without it.
“It helps us to show a client how we propose to reconfigure a space, show the same design but with different tile options and above all it helps clients who have issues imagining how it will look. The software can be so very realistic and true to life so it works well for showing ambient lighting, which you can’t always convey in words to a client.”
If your showroom items are grouped together and saved, they can be dropped into designs in an instant, bringing bathrooms to life before your customer’s eyes. Focussing on your customer while creating the design is essential to forming a strong relationship, so ensure your CAD is as quick and easy to use as possible, and that your connection with the customer is maintained throughout the collaboration.
To read all of Compusoft's tips, download the full guide here.