Personalization has become the name of the game for retailers.
Despite growing concerns over data privacy, consumers have become accustomed to being known by the brands they buy from. In fact, 80% of are more likely to purchase from a retailer that offers a personalized experience – and the other 20% are undoubtedly influenced by this too, whether they admit it or not. (Source: Epsilon)
As personalization has improved, so too has its impact on the retail bottom line. Research suggests AI-powered targeted recommendations are now responsible for driving 26% of total revenues. The use of data and insights to understand individual likes and dislikes not only brings consumers further into a retailer’s ecosystem but encourages them to spend more via highly targeted suggestions based on that data. And, as consumers spend more, they produce more data for future recommendations.
This creates a powerful loop for retailers of all shapes and sizes. For kitchen retailers in particular, though, personalization has an even more important role to play. It must also help tackle the biggest consumer hurdle of all: the imagination gap.
Kitchen retail stores are faced with a user experience problem. It is said that half of all consumers will abandon refurbishment projects because of an inability to visualize what the room being designed will look like once completed. That’s the imagination gap and it has been a barrier to purchase cycles and an issue for conversion rates since the very beginning. Of course, it’s one of the primary reasons why brick-and-mortar stores feature so many mocked-up kitchen designs. As humans, we are notoriously bad at picturing what a static product will look like unless we see it up close and personal in real life.
Add in the fact that kitchens are a high value purchase and the number of abandoned projects is probably much higher in reality. At a time when automation, personalization, and general advances in technology are driving efficiencies across retail and allowing the human components in the chain to focus on high-ticket activities, kitchen retail sales staff are still spending a lot of time with prospects that aren’t ready to buy – and, if they can’t picture what it is they are looking for, may never buy at all.
The most interesting thing about this is that while the imagination gap creates an efficiency challenge in kitchen retail, efficiency is the focus of change elsewhere in the industry, thanks to the introduction of the latest tech. Capgemini predicts AI will help retailers save $340 billion a year by 2020. (Source: Capgemini) Beyond powering recommendation engines, AI is expected to spruce up back-end systems, making things quicker and easier from a processing and operations point of view.
That’s great news for e-commerce players and mainstream retailers, but what about kitchen retail? Well, the good news is that new technology can improve the situation – and drive efficiencies – here, too.
Creating a more personalized and engaging experience for consumers in kitchen retail, while also solving the imagination gap, boils down to offering them full control over the design process from end to end. Consumers are moving away from off-the-shelf designs, no longer willing to compromise on what they want. Tackling this issue and better serving customers by offering a future-proofed solution means integrating new 3D planning technologies at the very heart of their offerings.
The right 3D planning technology, such as the HomeByMe Kitchen Planner 3D planning solution, can rid consumers of the imagination gap once and for all. It can guide them through each step of creating their dream kitchen, with full access to the retail catalog to see how different designs and products can come together to meet their individual preferences.
From concept to completion, consumers using 3D planning solutions are able to better visualize their dream and picture what their kitchen will look like. They can tailor, shake up, alter, and otherwise personalize as much as they choose. It brings the in-store experience to life from anywhere but with added gravitas, creating a personal, not-one-size-fits-all shopping experience that ensures an emotional connection. And, because this technology can be used before consumers even step foot in the showroom, when they do reach the shop floor, they are in a position to finalize their designs and make the purchase. Think huge commercial upsides: greatly reduced sales cycles, increased conversion rates, less wasted time for the sales team.
Like AI and other retail technology advances, 3D planning solutions improve and offer additional value the longer they are in situ. As more users adopt these platforms, that creates more data. More data means more insights from which to better personalize for future shoppers and returning customers. There’s a powerful benefit from a design and merchandizing point of view too. Each new kitchen that’s designed on a 3D platform gives retailers insights into future market trends and style choices.
Here, 3D planning technologies can reduce the risk of human error. A kitchen that has been designed and measured in 3D in the first instance will be accurate down to the millimeter. No more customer complaints about ill-fitting countertops or guesswork from sales staff about whether that kitchen unit will fit nicely with those cupboard panels.
For solutions such as HomeByMe Kitchen Planner, AI also brings a direct benefit. Advances in machine learning means quicker and faster design based on past creations, greatly reducing the time it takes to build and visualize alternative versions of a room that include new products launched by a retailer. Perhaps Capgemini’s predictions will extend to the front-end of kitchen retail after all?
Ultimately, no matter what way you look at it, designing the kitchen of tomorrow depends on the retailer of tomorrow. In 2020 and beyond, this means a more advanced omnichannel experience to kick personalization into a new gear and take a highly innovative approach to defeating the imagination gap, thereby enhancing revenues. 3D planning solutions offer a more tailored experience that can significantly improve engagement. And the fact that they reduce the complexity associated with a traditional long lead and high-value kitchen retail purchase cycle is the icing on the cake.