Industry 4.0 has come to be viewed by many as the fourth industrial revolution. But while automation and the Internet of Things have caught the imagination of many, the full potential of virtual and augmented reality has so far been overlooked. Nathan Maclean, Managing Director at Virtual Worlds, explains why it’s important the KB industry makes the most of this technology.
“Industry 4.0 and all it entails is going to be vital for most industries across the world. Heralding the introduction of automation in the workplace, it will see the rise of smart factories, a proliferation in cloud computing and increasing numbers of decisions made by machines, rather than humans.
“If this all seems a little more Blade Runner than bona fide KB retail, you might be surprised to find out that many of the principles that underpin Industry 4.0 are perfectly scalable and can provide a hint at how KB retailers will work in the future. In fact, some stores have already started adopting these practices now.
“Virtual reality, specifically, offers a next-generation method of engaging the customer in a product or service. It is particularly powerful in the KB industry, where customers are often spending large sums of money on rooms that are being specifically designed for their home – and are therefore highly likely to think twice before committing to a purchase.
“The threat of buyers’ remorse is ever present in the KB industry, and that can make customers nervous and lead to an increase in the sales cycle. Virtual reality can help to dramatically decrease this sales cycle by reassuring customers that the final design will meet their expectations, but it also offers many other benefits besides. One of which is the digitalisation of catalogues; by putting products from leading manufacturers into a virtual reality system, showrooms can in effect increase their footprint by providing the opportunity to showcase a much larger number of products.
“In the future, it will undoubtedly be possible to use the data gathered through previous sales to help provide guidance to customers on the products that match up to their specification and requirements, allowing showrooms to tailor the services that each person receives, depending on the vision they have for their home. Systems such as Virtual Worlds Professional are already breaking these boundaries. It helps to improve the customer journey by providing one system through which a retailer can create renders of prospective bathrooms and take their customer on industry-leading virtual reality walkthroughs through its 4D Theatre package.
“Virtual Worlds also includes the opportunity to price all room sets as they are being created, using ONE Price, while augmented reality can be offered with the addition of AiR, a new app for iPhones and iPads. This technology is constantly progressing and has tangible benefits for businesses who take the plunge, with conversion rates of up to 80% reported by retailers using the platform.
“Virtual reality will undoubtedly play a major role as Industry 4.0 develops over the coming months and years, and will be part of a package of next-generation tools that will provide a complete solution for the KB industry. For retailers, this offers untold potential to customise and improve the purchasing experience for customers, while shortening the sales cycle.”
Virtual Worlds | virtualworlds.co.uk