Visualising the end result for Topps Tiles
Topps Tiles, with a third of the UK market share for tiles and some 300,000 customer transactions every week, is using the Virtual Tiler, developed in conjunction with ArtiCAD. Currently in use in Topps’ 250 Design Advice Centres, the Virtual Tiler enables staff to overlay a design of the customer’s kitchen or bathroom with their choice of tile.
The system has been in use for nearly twelve months, which has given Topps plenty of opportunity to monitor the results. Sian O’Neill, Director of Marketing, Topps Tiles: “Customer feedback is that they are finding it an inspirational and brilliant experience. From a company point of view, conversion rates have improved considerably and, anecdotally, we believe it is shortening the sales cycle as it is making it easier for customers to reach a decision – and one in which they have absolute confidence.”
The decision by Topps to introduce a tool such as the Virtual Tiler was initially taken over two years ago. Customer research had indicated that ‘visualisation of the end result’ was the most important aspect of choosing and purchasing new tiles. Sian: “The choice of tile can clearly make an enormous difference to the look and feel of a room. It can represent a significant investment and it is relatively ‘permanent’ – far more so than a wall which can simply be painted over. It is a big decision to make and one which can be difficult for some customers to make.”
Topps wanted to ensure that their staff did not have to become experts in the use of a CAD system, becoming caught up in detailed kitchen and bathroom designs. Any new system had to be quick and easy to use, with the “tile as the hero of the design”. Armed with this brief, ArtiCAD stripped down their ArtiCAD design system to a much more basic tool, but one which would be exactly what Topps needed. Staff in the Design Advice Centres can either use template kitchens and bathrooms which approximate to the customer’s own room, or can produce a simple design based on a sketch from the customer. Onto these they can overlay the customer’s choice of tiles for walls, floors and worksurfaces.
The entire portfolio of Topps Tiles has been produced by ArtiCAD as an easily accessible online catalogue with the graphics accurately showing the complexity and sophistication of the company’s products, be they matt, glossy, natural stone effect or any other.
To complement the Virtual Tiler, Topps has introduced the “Instant Visualiser” (also developed by ArtiCAD), onto their website. This allows visitors to the site to choose from the company’s top fifty ranges and visualise their choice within a room plan. Sian: “This again is part of our commitment to helping customers visualise the end result, allowing people to make a choice from their own home and complementing the in-store experience with the Virtual Tiler.
“We have found ArtiCAD very supportive throughout the process. We are currently undertaking some more training, led by our super users, and between January and September of next year, we will be rolling out Virtual Tiler to all our 360 stores.
“We are regularly ranked the number one retailer, across all sectors for customer satisfaction, and the Virtual Tiler provides us with another string to our bow and another means of maintaining our reputation for great service.”
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