Kitchen retailers require an online presence that extends their in-store experience to customers at home.
An informative and interactive e-commerce platform is becoming a hugely important asset for kitchen retailers to appeal to evolving shopper preferences and streamline the sales cycle. But with new technology invariably comes new responsibility. We share best practices for kitchen retailers to increase sales and customer loyalty by optimizing their online platform with the power of 3D planning.
To reduce bounce rate and prevent user drop off, retailers don’t need us to tell them that intuitive web design is key. Easy navigation, an attractive interface and the right content will all help to ensure shoppers take the time to see what your website has to offer. But, in the kitchen retail world of intense planning and big ticket prices, customers need a greater level of online interaction if a website is to encourage them onto a path to conversion. In the online era, it is largely accepted that kitchen retailers need to make their presence known; and this is not to provide an alternative to the showroom experience, but to extend it. In most cases, customers will still want – and need – to come into store and speak with a sales professional in order to validate their plans, ask any questions and seek expert opinion. However, it is also clear that consumers want to take increasing control of home design projects, and they want to do so at their own convenience.
By adopting a 3D planning platform that can be white-labeled on the website as well as used in-store, kitchen retailers can provide customers with what they want, while helping to drive qualified leads into the showroom. The HomeByMe Kitchen Planner 3D planning solution extends the intuitive design of your website and, indeed, your stores, into an easy to use, versatile and highly visual planning experience for customers to experiment with designs and ideas – whether they want to do so quickly using preconfigured templates, or in granular detail. Customers can input the exact dimensions of their kitchen and redesign it entirely in 3D, drawing on a complete and up-to-date catalog of your product lines. The 360-degree perspective allows customers to see their designs from every angle, while photo-like renders provide a highly realistic visual of the finished product.
One of the biggest challenges to online kitchen design is ensuring final plans and renders created by your customers are realistic and free from errors. It is counterintuitive for kitchen retailers to provide an at-home planning solution for shoppers to visualize their dream kitchen, only to find out at the point of purchase that building it simply isn’t practical. The challenge, of course, is that kitchen design is complex. First and foremost, the kitchen has to be a workable space, and this means considering the principles of kitchen design from the outset, as well as practicalities such as the location of water supply, right through to serious health and safety factors, such as fire and electrical hazards. It’s true that customers want greater autonomy, but they want to retain a helping hand, too – that’s why, even with the rise of the design-it-yourself philosophy, the in-store consultation remains so important.
With an automated kitchen design engine and smart business rules, the HomeByMe Kitchen Planner 3D planning solution enables shoppers to create designs that are sales ready. Should a consumer try to design a kitchen layout in a way that is impractical or unsafe, they are automatically guided towards a solution with real-time alerts and suggestions of alternatives. The result is peace of mind for the customer, and a user experience that builds confidence in, and engagement with, the retailer. For both parties, the solution mitigates risk, while for the kitchen retailer, it can streamline the sales cycle with consultations that begin further along the purchase journey.
Pop-ups and alerts can be a great way of providing customers with the real-time information they need to make an informed purchase decision. Customers are grateful for insight that will help them along their way, whether relevant promotional offers, personalized product recommendations and alternatives, or alerts to a product that is out of stock or selling fast. But only if this insight is accurate. In the world of retail, there has always been a fine line between sales support that is helpful and informative, compared with pressurized and off-putting. And it’s one of the many reasons ‘design-it-yourself’ is so popular; customers can design and experiment taking as much time as they need, without running the risk of being persuaded into an impulse decision they fear they could regret.
Of course, the showroom experience for the vast majority of shoppers renders these fears unfounded; but a planning experience that customers can first have online is an effective step towards building trust with customers and providing them with the confidence to venture in-store. To create the right online environment, however, retailers need to ensure promotional offers and information are transparent and tailored if they are to avoid falling into a trap of applying pressure with “hurry deals” or causing confusion with mistimed discount claims that could appear misleading.
The addition of HomeByMe’s 3D planning solution for kitchen retailers can ensure transparent pricing throughout the online design experience. As a customer populates their design, accumulated costs can be monitored in real time to ensure they remain within budget. The omnichannel solution also enables accurate product catalog information, which ensures alerts on stock availability and the latest promotions are consistent throughout the business. With the wealth of data made available by the platform on user design trends and preferences, retailers can deliver highly personalized campaigns to recommend products and alternatives should an item be out of stock, or to inform marketing communications or regular touchpoints in the event of drop off.
Kitchen retailers require an online presence that extends their in-store experience to customers at home, with the option to not only browse products but design with them. Today, customers want the autonomy to research and experiment with their home designs at their convenience before making a purchase or heading into store. They want to visualize their plans and control their budget. With an omnichannel 3D planning solution that can be used on the website as well as by customers or sales professionals in-store, kitchen retailers can provide customers with the online experience they are looking for, offering transparency, ease of use and guidance to optimize the website, build loyalty and drive sales.