19.–23.01.2022 #immcologne

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Virtual spaces

Digital showrooms are conquering the interior design industry

Virtual shopping experiences are making inroads: From interactive apps to full-service digital showrooms, the industry is currently experiencing an enormous boost in innovation. Customers are benefiting from new offerings that integrate digital experiences into real life. The following examples reveal the future of virtual shopping environments.

Digital showroom

Digital showroom. Photo: Taryn Elliott auf Pexels

From e-commerce to v-commerce

E-commerce is expanding rapidly in the interiors industry. But the challenges it faces are greater than with the online sale of everyday items such as fashion, books or electronic appliances: Like hardly any other sector, interior design appeals to many different senses. Images and product descriptions, the backbone of e-commerce today, quickly reach their limits, as do recommendation marketing and emotional storytelling.

Augmented and virtual reality are now shifting the boundaries and opening up digital spaces where customers’ imagination can experiment. Virtually positioning pieces of furniture in customers’ own homes, designing interiors with interactive room planners and exploring digital showrooms – smart technologies are creating a completely new shopping experience. This is virtual commerce, or v-commerce for short.

The benefits are wide-ranging: With augmented reality apps that integrate digital content into the camera perspective of a smartphone or tablet, customers can see immediately what effect the new dining room table will have in their own home. Wall colours and surfaces can be simulated in different lighting conditions in virtual reality. The customer wants a preview of the sofa in a different covering during a video consultation ? No problem with an interactive showroom. And the best thing about it: V-commerce is already a reality, as the following examples demonstrate. For the furniture industry, v-commerce offers diverse opportunities and opens up a completely new dimension in customer acquisition and retention.

Best practice: four examples of virtual shopping experiences

Digitalisation stands or falls on the added value that it generates for customers. These four examples demonstrate how customers benefit from technological innovations and from support in the decision-making process.

1. Thonet’s digital showroom

Today we expect a modern website to do more than just present information – it must also convey emotions. Thonet’s online presence is full of visually stunning inspiration for B2B and B2C customers. Thonet has crafted an atmospheric stage for its design classics, presenting them in a variety of settings, from modern workspaces to private dining rooms. Two hundred years after the company’s founding, it has given the Bauhaus maxim “form follows function” a digital spin: Function follows the user. Extensive 3D visualisations create a contemporary user experience, encapsulated in a visually inspiring digital presence. In addition, architects and interior designers can download technical details and integrate them into their own projects.

2. BoConcept presents interactive experience points

In its Dortmund flagship store, BoConcept is shifting the boundaries of analogue shopping into the digital sphere. The real store has been expanded into an entirely new dimension with intelligent “experience points”. Here customers can create their own personal style profile, for example, or discover suitable furniture and styling options with the aid of fabric samples. In the Toolbox, the Danish furniture manufacturer presents visualisations of all the conceivable colours and combinations, giving customers a deeper insight into their dream design than any fabric swatch can provide. Digital opportunities are utilised extremely effectively at the analogue point of sale – and to the customer’s benefit.

3. Augmented reality at Villeroy & Boch

Will the coveted bathroom cupboard really work in the bathroom? The Villeroy & Boch AR app is an interactive bridge between desire and reality: Equipped with a smartphone or tablet and an AR marker positioned in the corresponding place in the bathroom, customers can simulate the dimensions, colours and fit of their dream interior. The app projects the product photorealistically in their own bathroom. It can then be viewed from all sides on their smartphone or tablet screen and configured to meet their preferences, while all the required information such as prices and assembly instructions is just a click away. With its interactive interior planning tool, Villeroy & Boch delivers a tailor-made fit for its customers’ desires.

4. Sudbrock presents its 3D showroom

Sudbrock allows customers to experience its living room furniture virtually in all dimensions. With the aid of an innovative technology created by 3D specialists Matterport, customers can explore a digital showroom of the very latest generation. Every detail in the 360-degree views can be viewed from all sides in the virtual showroom, while the floor plan and the revolutionary Dollhouse mode provide an overview of the rooms and properties. Embedded information, images and videos in the digital showroom complement the digital product presentation, creating a unique shopping experience that is in hardly any way inferior to a visit to a real store.

Digital showrooms are a future opportunity

Digitalisation is opening up a rapidly expanding field of new possibilities, from market research in virtual showrooms to virtual reality technology. For the furniture industry, the focus is on meeting the customer’s need to experience its range of products without having to leave the house. Visualising the new sofa in various scenarios simplifies the selection process and prevents dissatisfaction after the item is delivered. Interacting with digital tools is also fun, and with a view to tomorrow’s customers, it is a pioneering step. What is more, theoretically unlimited virtual environments can replace expensive retail space while an online presence is accessible anytime, anywhere. The development of constantly improving VR products is accelerating this trend and opening up previously unimagined potential for the furniture and interior design industry.

Those who identify these and similar trends early on can become the drivers of innovation, which is why the Internet is the key to success in trend scouting , too.

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