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Smart Showrooms

Seamless Experiences Using the Real and Virtual World

With technology literally in everyone’s pockets, nearly 100% of consumers will engage a brand or product online virtually “shopping around” before making a significant purchase. In fact, 90% of consumers will read online reviews before visiting a retail business and 88% of consumers trust online reviews more than a personal recommendation. With the explosion of online retailing and the consumers’ ever-increasing level of comfort and trust with digital transactions, the impact on the relationship between the buyer and the vendor Is considerable.

Two obvious factors are causing vendors to revisit and rethink their market showrooms: buyer engagement and trade shows.  Online retail continues to grow and retailer focus has subsequently shifted to these channels, as well. Add to that the current global travel restrictions and the impacts of the pandemic on trade shows and markets and you have an obvious challenge on hand. What is a vendor to do? In the absence of tradeshows and markets, where does a showroom fit in?

One creative trend that is emerging is converting “dead,” under-utilized or multi-purpose space inside the company or manufacturing facility into virtual showrooms.  Converting waiting rooms, entry ways or other spaces into display showrooms allows the vendor to use this area to connect with retailers via interactive platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and others.

Research shows that customers want an integrated, omnichannel approach. Over 84% favor companies who integrate their online and offline channels, making it easier for customers to get a holistic feeling for a product they’re buying. To help bridge this gap, vendors are also deploying more smart features such as digital signage and interactive displays into their trade show and permanent market showrooms.  The goal of this investment is to paint the picture for the retailer so the consumer can engage the brand and create an experience in the store environment.

Additionally, many companies are finding ways to convert areas inside their facilities that can engage consumers when they visit or take tours of the facilities.  Two great examples of brands creatively using smart technology to engage their customers are Lego and Dell.

At the LEGO manufacturing location, customers waiting on tours do so in the “play area,” where they can play with LEGOs, watch product videos, and interact digitally with a LEGO world using in-wall screens.

Dell Computer’s manufacturing location converted their waiting room into a showroom using Facility Source’s expertise. We installed six kiosks along the wall for waiting customers to interact with, giving them a chance to check out the products before taking the actual tour. Additionally, this space can be utilized for virtual sales meetings to connect with our retail buyers and demonstrate some of our products’ benefits and features.

Research shows that customers want an integrated, omnichannel approach. Over 84% favor companies who integrate their online and offline channels, making it easier for customers to get a holistic feeling for a product they’re buying.

Some benefits of manufacturing showrooms are:

They provide hands-on experience. Customers can see and feel the details of the products they are buying. They are also immersed in the buying experience, as opposed to being at home behind a screen where they can be interrupted by the doorbell, the dog, and the children. Being in a showroom also cuts straight through the mental traffic the buyer might be stuck in by shopping around online.

They help sell premium products. This is especially true where the buying experience is enhanced by the sense. Homeowners want to FEEL the carpet they are buying. Aestheticians want to SMELL the products they are considering putting in their salons. Having a showroom means being able to appeal to customers with a sensory experience.

They keep the customer engaged. It’s just a smart idea to entertain people once they are on your turf. Instead of having them wait for a tour or stand around socially distanced, engaged them. Push your brand to your captive audience. Let them play around with your product. Help usher them in to the experience of what you offer.

They tick both boxes. Surveys show that shoppers want 1 of 2 things: total engagement with a company OR zero engagement with a company. You statistically probably have some of each coming through your doors each time. With a manufacturing showroom, you can offer autonomy and personal connection to each customer.

Manufacturing showrooms will most likely begin to grow in popularity as the seamlessness of the real and virtual worlds flourishes. They are cost-efficient and their carbon footprint is much less than the showrooms of old. They also utilize the foot traffic already in your building. They are one “smart” showroom you should pay attention to in 2021.