Product categories with a high degree of product differentiation and high order values are challenging to sell purely online. For example, buying hard or modular furniture often benefits from a complementary visit to an offline showroom.
But what if you could perform the offline visit from the comfort of your home using virtual reality technology that lets you walk through the furniture showroom? This replicates the offline experience with one exception. It doesn’t offer the sense of touch. However, it’s enough to convert many customers. And the sense of touch is also likely to be baked into virtual reality in the future.
Here’s an example of the technology, developed by Matterport, applied to an Ikea showroom.
I visited our furniture retailer Vivense‘s newest showroom earlier this week. Vivense’s latest showroom, in the Beylikduzu neighborhood of Istanbul, is its fourth showroom. It follows the company’s first showroom in the Sisli neighborhood of Istanbul, second in Ankara, and third in Izmir.
The new showroom is different from the others on two dimensions. The first is its size. At four floors covering 800 square meters of space, it is Vivense’s largest showroom to date. Now that the company knows what works and what doesn’t when running its showrooms, and is able to get them operational at a low cost and fast pace, it has the confidence to launch increasingly larger showrooms.
The second distinction of the Beylikduzu showroom is its location. Whereas the other showrooms are located in the downtown areas of their respective cities, the Beylikduzu showroom is on the outskirts of Istanbul, close to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
I hadn’t been to Beylikduzu before and, since I don’t have a car and get around by a combination of public transport and taxis, I was initially hesitant to take the long journey to visit the new showroom. I ended up borrowing my wife’s car for the day to make the trip and I’m glad I did. Although Beylikduzu is on the outskirts of the city, it’s an area bustling with residential buildings. The Vivense showroom is in the middle of these residential buildings, in close proximity to the stores of home improvement retailers like Koctas and Bauhaus. It’s a great place for a furniture retailer.
Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what the showroom looks like. If you’d like, you can visit it at this address.