Today’s tech savvy-consumers are continuing to plan home and kitchen improvement projects even when they are unable to visit physical retail outlets in person. Thanks to a do-it-yourself mindset and inspiration from social media, consumers at home are spending more time on home improvement projects, using online resources and technology to help them get started and guide them through the process. Home and kitchen retailers consequently are faced with the challenge – and opportunity – of supporting this aspiration, and moving forward quickly with implementation of their omnichannel strategies.
They need to offer omnichannel consumer experiences that are as close as possible to real life, operating in ‘business as usual’ mode, reducing their reliance on physical stores to engage or convert consumers. For the home and kitchen improvement category, an integral part of this is the provision of a solution that allows consumers to plan and visualize their spaces in a realistic, three-dimensional way. An easy-to-use 3D home and kitchen planning solution is essential for this, allowing consumers to progress with their dream projects beyond the store environment.
Here are three strategies home retailers can adopt to ensure they deliver a true omnichannel experience, and enable customers to move forward with their home improvement projects, even if store visitations are restricted.
One reason consumers head into stores is to reduce risk of costly errors by validating their design ideas with experts. An online 3D planning solution needs to allow consumers to receive this same validation, by providing 24×7 real-time access to experts. There are various ways to do this: integrating chatbot technology that offers help during design, real-time chat access with live experts, or call-back facilities with remote experts through cloud-based collaboration platforms.
Integration with CRM platforms can also help sales teams to follow up with offers and advice to incentivize and help consumers to make decisions and complete their purchases. This also offers the added benefit of minimizing cart and design abandonment.
Integrating collaboration tools with 3D planning solutions helps sales professionals stay on the same page as the customers they are serving. This level of responsiveness and customer understanding can be extremely effective in supporting customers who are looking to progress with home and kitchen improvement projects by minimizing pre-purchase dissonance even when store access is limited.
Do-it-yourself design does not need to be inaccurate. With highly customizable templates and the facility for consumers to input their own room dimensions, 3D planning solutions can deliver millimeter precision in final designs. Building in real-time alerts to flag kitchen design faults as consumers add in products and play around with layouts, minimizes the risk of unexpected costs or hiccups during installation.
But it’s not just about design accuracy. Consumers, without the ability to visit the store for a touch-and-feel experience, need to receive the most lifelike render of their design in 3D to be confident enough to buy. They need to be able to view their designs almost as though they were walking through a physical room: from different elevations, lighting and perspectives.
By ensuring that the 3D planning solution they implement allows for 360-degree visualization and hyper-realistic full-color renders, home and kitchen retailers can ensure their customers are confident enough in their designs to proceed to purchase.
Social design platforms like HomeByMe made it both tempting and easy to get inspiration from talented amateurs and experts around the world on home design. In turn, consumers are more inspired than ever to share their home design projects: more than 56 million users engaged with home content on Pinterest in 2020, for example. (Source: Hootsuite)
Home retailers must deliver “peer-to-peer sharing” opportunities to enable customers to crowdsource approval on design plans, and the good news is that they can do so quite easily. By ensuring their 3D home design planning solutions allow consumers to post pictures of their designs on social media, retailers can not only help consumers gain social validation of their designs but also receive exposure on social media far beyond their own following.
Achieving digital customer engagement and increasing omnichannel sales while reducing reliance on the physical store will become the new normal for home retail brands in the years ahead. An intuitive, feature-packed and cloud-based 3D planning solution, such as those offered by HomeByMe Furniture & Decor Planner and HomeByMe Kitchen Planner, can help significantly in delivering on this goal. With some of the techniques outlined above, home retailers can go even further in tapping into online trends and supporting an end-to-end online purchase experience.