Smile Kitchens is an online kitchen design and supply company, set up in 2020 with a clear goal to provide a new and better way for houseowners to choose and buy their new kitchen. Core to Smile’s philosophy was the essential role which technology would play in helping them to achieve their aims. Their chosen technology partner was Charlie Turner, for animation and CGI work, and ArtiCAD for their innovative software solutions.
Dawn Filkins, Head of Creative, Smile Kitchens: “We looked at other KBB design software, but found ArtiCAD to be far more intuitive and thus better suited to our new venture.”
Smile operates without a showroom and without traditional commission-based sales personnel. The company supplies all cabinetry from a local specialist (with plans to have its own range with custom finishes in the near future), whilst everything else in the kitchen, such as appliances, tiling and flooring, is provided direct to the customer by an expanding number of Smile partners. For example, appliances are provided by ao.com, and include a 10% discount on the usual price because of the Smile partnership. “The benefit of the partnerships is that we are leaving specification of specialist products to the experts, and the customer is not paying a marked-up price.”
Whilst Smile initially had a reasonably clear idea of their target customers, the pandemic changed that out of all recognition. Lockdowns meant that practically everyone had to become far more familiar and comfortable with using technology for an array of activities. Smile’s business has prospered.
Smile use ArtiCAD Planner on their web site as their primary lead capture mechanism. Visitors to the site are able to input the measurements of their new kitchen, and this is followed up with a “Discovery Zoom” call to talk to discuss in more detail. The design is produced using ArtiCAD-Pro, often using ArtiVR for flythroughs and virtual 3D walkthroughs, It is presented via Zoom, and includes the detailed 3D designs, a comprehensive quotation and plans. The virtual reality presentations are currently presented via a screen, but Dawn believes that “it will not be long before many households have their own VR headset, and will then be able to enjoy a truly immersive experience of their new kitchen.”.
Once the client is happy with all the details, their own fitter visits the house to check all the measurements and other aspects of the proposed installation. Smile orders the cabinetry, worktops, handles and doors which are then installed by the customer’s own fitter.
“Our aim is to use technology to streamline all the processes to the benefit of our customers and to avoid manual interventions, which can cause delays and allow errors to creep in. We are constantly looking at new ways of presenting our designs, which will give customers an ever-more realistic and engaging view of the proposed new room. For example, we are very much looking forward to using the new virtual meetings feature in ArtiVR, where we can discuss the design with the client whilst both being within the design itself.
“ArtiCAD’s software and technology is fundamental to our business, and we have developed a very good relationship with the account manager, developer and support staff, all of whom are very efficient and do a great job.”