Designing a whole new bathroom from scratch can seem like hard work for consumers looking to make home improvements.

This is predominantly due to the large upfront investment involved and the associated risks of getting things wrong. But can retailers help to change that, making the whole process as short and seamless as possible?

There are many stages a consumer will go through when it comes to purchasing a new bathroom, starting from the moment they decide there is a requirement, all the way through to installation. According to a study, 51% of shoppers will research or get inspiration online via Google before making a purchase, adding an extra layer to the process. This layer is important, as it ensures the consumer feels in control, with an abundance of choice across product lines and retailers. However, this can also distract and delay the consumer from decision making, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and indecisive over which options to take.

The timeframe for end-to-end sales is entirely different for each individual; it can range from days to months, requiring little to large amounts of assistance from sales staff or designers during the decision-making process. This can make it difficult for retailers to allocate resources in the best way. There is an art to balancing pre-sale consultations that focus on inspiring consumers and scoping requirements while making sure that the customers in-store, ready to make purchases, receive the support they need to get the sale across the line.


Optimizing the pre-sales process

The traditional bathroom buying process starts with establishing a need, then scoping out a brief with the minimum requirements for a new layout, using current pain points to inform the next design.

From this point onwards, taking measurements is key, as accuracy needs to sit at the heart of every design project. Centimeters, while seemingly small, can jeopardize an entire bathroom layout, when factored into fixture alignment and storage spaces. Taking these critical measurements for overall room size and spaces available can often be the longest and hardest part of the buying journey. This is due to the sheer levels of precision involved.

Once the spaces to work with have been defined, the design process can kick off. This is where consumers will carry out their online research, looking at catalog products in isolation, checking different combinations, and reviewing inspirational recommended product sets by retailers. The design stage is often considered as the most enjoyable by consumers due to the scope for creativity, using both their own concepts and those discussed with sales staff and designers who can offer guidance and support. This collaboration between consumers and retailers also serves as a great way for sales staff to showcase their expertise and gauge levels of interest. This helps to better guide the customer through to making a purchase. Due to the abundance of products and options available, this stage can take a long time. Consumers will want to try and visualize their design ideas in the context of their own home, which is hard to do from flat designs, product catalogs, or even in-store showrooms.

The final transactional stage is more straightforward, focusing on making the dream a reality and costing up the project, alongside the timelines for implementation. This may take place online or in-store, and ultimately is the final reassurance for the buyer that the retailer can deliver on the requirements and provide good value for the investment. In an ‘online first’ era it is entirely possible to reach this stage without any involvement from the retailer, whose role is to simply coordinate the transaction. However, there are ways that retailers can speed up this process for online and in-store buyers alike, reaching the stage of being purchase-ready as quickly as possible.


Accelerating prospects across the line and sealing the deal

There are many tactics that retailers can deploy to get customers to part with their cash as quickly as possible. These include interactive POS kiosks or elaborately designed brochures and catalogs. Some bathroom retailers have also explored CAD solutions in a bid to bring designs to life. However, this is a time-consuming process for sales staff or designers in-store due to the expertise required, as solutions are complex to operate, reducing the number of customers that can be supported per day as a result.

Arguably, one of the most powerful tactics is giving customers the tools needed to assist in measuring, designing, and researching their new bathroom, easily and in one platform. Thus, leaving the customer feeling informed and empowered to accelerate their purchase journey under their own terms and control.

3D planning achieves just that. Requiring zero expertise, retailers can create beautiful bathroom designs that can be viewed online to spark inspiration amongst consumers. Just one click will transport shoppers into the 3D planner featuring that design, which can then be fully adapted to their own bathroom layout by inputting exact room dimensions. From here, customers have free rein to edit the room and try out different fixtures, floors or color schemes, before tapping into the retailer’s expertise. By utilizing the power of 3D technology, home improvement enthusiasts can visualize the new design ideas in their own personal homes and spaces. This will naturally resonate better than hypothetical flat drawings.

For an everyday consumer, they also may not have easy access to, or knowledge of, the NKBA (National Kitchen + Bath Association) rules and regulations that need to be factored into design ideas. Using a 3D planning solution such as HomeByMe Bathroom Planner always ensures a high level of quality and compliance, in line with NKBA standards, for the best possible design experience. It is reassurance and information such as this that helps build consumer confidence, propelling them towards the checkout.

A frictionless and easy experience from start to finish

Incorporating 3D planning into future retail strategies will certainly reap many benefits for retailers, especially for timesaving, better utilization of resources available, and lead conversions. By shortening the purchase cycle due to the in-depth information available to the consumer during the research and design stage, retailers can really focus on delivering value through the expertise of sales staff in-store and online and providing a frictionless experience between the two. It just goes to show that designing a new bathroom doesn’t need to be hard work or time-intensive for either party, leaving the retailer time to serve more customers and the consumer time to enjoy their beautiful new bathroom.

To further explore how outsourcing the 3D experience can benefit your bathroom retail brand, get in touch to organize a demonstration of the platform with a member of our team of experts.

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