Technology is disrupting the kitchen industry by redefining the shopping experience and consumers expect exceptional purchase experiences as standard.
It is a challenge to attract certain demographics such as millennials into stores, as they prefer to do their research and even make purchases online. These trends present an opportunity for brands to differentiate their offering and gain a competitive edge. By embracing technology, kitchen retailers can even seek to address issues such as range management, therefore decreasing the cost of sale, and improving margins and profitability.
Here are some key trends through which technology is transforming the kitchen shopping experience, for savvy kitchen retailers to consider.
Using big data and analytics, brands can offer hyper-personalized and extremely targeted product recommendations based on users’ preferences gathered from online and in-store activities. It has proven to be a successful model for Netflix, with every user receiving a completely customized home screen that shows recommendations based on individuals’ preferences.
The same concept can be applied to kitchen design. Technology is now in place that blends personalization, analytics and automation software, to curate a highly customized and compelling view to customers which resonates on a much deeper level than previously. In fact, 80% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a brand that offers a personalized experience, creating a lucrative opportunity for retailers.
3D modelling technology offers retailers immense potential to work with consumers in a more collaborative way, allowing in-store staff to take a more consultative approach and leverage their expertise. This results in a real change to the sales cycle, consumers are now arriving in-store already equipped with their design ideas for discussion, saving time and resource for retailers.
By incorporating software such as the HomeByMe Kitchen Planner, kitchen retailers can provide consumers with a fully customizable design solution, utilizing switchable components and access to a whole library of brands and products to discover. Additional information such as exact measurements can be entered for optimum accuracy, meaning that customers can map out their new room layouts piece by piece in a visual and holistic way.
Nike recently hit the news following their rebrand as a technology company after launching a new augmented reality (AR) app allowing consumers to correctly size their feet, access 3D previews of shoes and see the shoes modelled on their own feet. This trend will be reflected in more and more retail environments and it is widely expected that the home improvement market will be a major adopter of AR technology, given its high involvement and value.
With generation Z and millennials now entering the home improvement market, retailers need to provide convenient solutions that bring designs to life across their preferred devices such as mobiles and tablets. Mimicking popular entertainment and gaming applications, AR and virtual reality (VR) applications create immersive experiences that are specific to each user’s preferences and their existing home layouts, allowing them to make more informed decisions and enjoy the process even more.
Visual search is fast gaining popularity with many people now using Google image search as their first priority to browse or locate products of interest. A third of all Google searches are image searches and yield more than a billion page views every day1. Voice search is also growing in tandem: according to Google 50% of searches will be conducted using voice search by 2020.
Kitchen retailers must adapt their SEO strategies to account for this key change in consumer preferences or risk their brand name not being featured as a search result, losing out on potential sales.
Kitchen retailers can cater to shoppers using visual search by providing useful images that are more than regular catalogue photographs: one example could be 3D images of pre–modelled kitchens to inspire shoppers.
An easy way to win with voice search results is to answer priority questions, for example. Answering questions promptly and accurately will achieve strong ranking results. By optimizing brochures and item descriptions to include phrases and keywords, kitchen retailers can make sure that are primed to answer questions via voice assistants such as ‘what is the minimum clearance between the boiler flue and your window?’.
Social media sites such as Instagram are shaping the way that consumers now browse and purchase products, with many apps now integrating with e-commerce solutions to capitalize on the visual nature of the platform and sense of discovery. Fashion and beauty brands have capitalized on this trend and the same attitudes and behaviors also apply to the home and kitchen sectors.
Kitchen retailers can benefit from this behavior by posting high quality imagery and easily digestible content designed to inspire, thus encouraging shoppers to take part in wider conversations such as via hashtags to create a community of ideas sharing and collaboration. By utilizing social media, they can also appeal to the millennial, ‘mobile first’ generation, where 80% of generation Z admit to being heavily influenced by social media when making purchases. (Source: We Are Social)
Solutions that allow consumers to model their kitchens, for instance, and share them with their friends, will allow retailers to tap into this trend and maximize the benefits for their business.
Many shoppers begin their purchasing journey online, completing extensive research and shaping their views before ever visiting a store. Others prefer to visit a local shop to get a fully immersive experience, then go back home to purchase online. Others prefer an in-store only experience. Whichever pattern your customers follow, you need to offer a unified experience online, in store and in-app, to make the customers’ buying experience seamless and convenient.
Techniques such as in-store kiosks offering the same 3D modelling capabilities that are available online, or the ability to search for and order items while in a concept store, all allow kitchen retailers to provide a truly omnichannel experience for their consumers.
Retailers who can make the shift into modernizing their approach, embracing the innovative options available, can achieve strong results in customer experiences and sales figures. The kitchen retail space is still in its infancy when it comes to fully tapping into the power of the technology available, so there is a real opportunity for forward thinking brands to emerge as pioneers.
Solutions such as 3D modelling and personalization will prove crucial to customer engagement and sales processes, giving customers an experience that stands apart from competitors and blends humans and technology to achieve the ultimate goal of a seamless omnichannel customer experience.