King Living has built an engaging new way for customers to shop for its high-end furniture online in less time than it takes some people to select a new sofa.
In just three days, the retailer captured its entire Annandale showroom with a high-definition professional camera, tagged each product with additional information and hyperlinks to its e-commerce site and uploaded the content to its website, where customers can explore the space on their computer or mobile device, zoom in on individual products and see them from all angles.
The virtual showroom, which went live on Monday, is intended to replicate the experience of visiting a King Living showroom. Unlike a standard e-commerce site, which presents products individually, often against a white background with no sense of scale or movement, the virtual showroom is an immersive and interactive environment. For instance, shoppers are able to “open” storage seating.
“We just felt that the website was quite a static interaction, and to build and design that [virtual showroom] interface was a great initiative to be able to continue to offer that real life experience, but in virtual reality,” Natalie Culina, King Living’s head of global brand, told Inside Retail.
Like many retailers in discretionary categories, King Living has closed some of its bricks-and-mortar showrooms following the Federal and State governments’ orders for Australians to stay home to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The retailer has kept most of its showrooms open with reduced trading hours, but foot traffic has been down since the social distancing restrictions were introduced, according to Culina.
“We’re always looking at new and innovative concepts,” she said. “I think the current time has just forced us to innovate more than we normally would, which has been great for us and great for our customers.”
In addition to the virtual showroom, King Living has also introduced a new digital consultation service, which allows customers to chat directly with one of the brand’s design consultants via FaceTime, WhatsApp or Google Duo.
Going forward, Culina said King Living plans to update the virtual showroom with new products as they become available and might even launch a new showroom altogether.
“It’s actually extremely cost effective to be honest with you. We have a lot of resources in-house that have expedited the process, so in terms of cost, people would be surprised, it’s not really costly at all,” she said.
The new experience also presents an opportunity to collect data on how customers are engaging with the brand online, and what’s working and what isn’t.
“As long as the demand for online remains as prevalent as it is now, that will give us the ability to test and learn and respond accordingly,” Culina said.