Ensuring business continuity is the challenge faced by many companies during this period, particularly for businesses that rely on public interaction. Immersive technologies are a crucial tool for supporting business processes, especially sales, and overcoming the current difficulties caused by social distancing. Frette understood this, as demonstrated by the success of their case with us at AnotheReality.
Digital showroom: an antidote to distancing
The suspension of activities since March of last year has disrupted the way business is conducted, especially as the emergency persisted, making it clear that it would take a long time before normal operations could resume. While a month or two of pause is a serious but manageable problem, the prolonged situation forced companies to find alternative solutions by turning to the digital realm. It’s relatively easy for an office to transition to remote work, but what about stores and showrooms? The smartest businesses relied on technology, and in the case of Frette, they opted for a Digital Showroom.
Frette continues its activities with Virtual Styling
Frette is an Italian luxury textile company that operates internationally, representing the Made in Italy brand around the world. It is known for its bedding, bath linens, and home accessories. Their buyers, both B2B and B2C, prefer to touch and feel the products before making a purchase. Consequently, Frette relies on its showrooms to showcase collections and finalize contracts with buyers.
The COVID-19 pandemic inevitably made in-person meetings impossible, posing a significant challenge for the Italian company, especially during the presentation of their new Spring/Summer 2021 collection to clients worldwide.
How to ensure business continuity when the world was unable to travel?
To address this challenge, Frette approached us to create a virtual showroom: a freely explorable digital space that showcases the Milan showroom in 360 degrees, complete with all the products from the new collection. This solution was designed for their B2B clientele, allowing them to remotely explore the store through technology, accompanied by a company representative who was ready to provide details about each product. The integration of the showroom with an e-commerce platform further supports the sales process, enabling Frette to complete its sales activities.
THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND FRETTE’S DIGITAL SHOWROOM
Considering the tight timeline and the need to make the experience accessible to all customers, Frette’s Digital Showroom chose to rely on technologies that could be used by anyone using a regular computer, avoiding the use of virtual reality devices. While VR devices could have enhanced immersion and added a wow factor, they would have limited the potential audience in this case, which consisted of B2B clients.
The chosen solution was a seemingly simple yet highly effective technology: a website with interactive 360-degree photography. This approach has been adopted by museums around the world, opening the (virtual) doors of culture to everyone. Frette opened these doors to its B2B clients, allowing them to visit the Via Manzoni showroom 24/7 from anywhere in the world, simply by clicking and dragging their mouse to look in any direction and obtain information about the products they were interested in.
By clicking on virtual hotspots, visitors could access additional details about specific products. Additionally, they were accompanied live by a Frette salesperson who, just like in an in-person meeting, explained the features, answered questions and facilitated transactions.
This approach not only bridged distances but also streamlined processes. With just a few clicks, company clients could add products to their shopping carts and complete their purchases, similar to any other e-commerce platform. This simplified the accounting procedures as well.
The design was simple yet effective: 360-degree environments connected through hotspots, allowing visitors to freely navigate between the two floors of the showroom and explore the new collection. The collection was also accessible through a convenient catalog within the website’s interface.
Results exceeding expectations
Frette adopted this solution to minimize losses, but the expectations were not extremely high. However, the results were much better than anticipated:
#01 – The number of B2B appointments remained unchanged (30, compared to an average of 25 to 35 appointments previously).
#02 – Sales volume equivalent to 93% of the previous year’s results, effectively matching the performance even during this challenging crisis.
#03 – Customer appreciation, with an average of 2 and a half hours spent by customers inside the “store” accompanied by the salesperson.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR FRETTE’S DIGITAL SHOWROOM?
The success of surpassing expectations has motivated Frette to continue down this path. The experience will be replicated by creating digital replicas of other Frette showrooms, and it will also be extended to end customers. Additionally, a Virtual Styling service will be integrated, where customers will be guided by a company representative in product selection and the purchasing process, which will not involve an e-commerce platform in this case.