Having recently celebrated three decades in business, Vado is looking to the future using Augmented Reality to support bathroom designers and their customers in the purchasing journey
Established as family-run business Eurobath in 1988, Vado has been in business for more than three decades.
It underwent a name change 10 years ago, to “better reflect the aspirations of the business” which has evolved to become one of the most recognised tap, shower and bathroom accessories suppliers to the bathroom industry.
Vado now has a global presence with offices in China, the Middle East, South Africa and Eastern Europe serving residential and hotel markets.
From its headquarters in Cheddar, Somerset, Vado supplies more than 60 countries worldwide. And it has recognised for its export business winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2012.
Growing UK sales
Now part of the Norcros Group, in an acquisition deal of £16million, Vado sits alongside Merlyn, Abode, Croydex, Triton and Johnson Tile.
It has helped the Group achieve an uninterrupted decade of year-on-year revenue, having increased by 10.3% to £331.0m, with the UK growing by 13.7% on the previous year, according to Norcros accounts for 2019.
In fact, Vado’s UK revenue grew by 5.5% on the prior year in both retail and trade channels. It grew revenue with major housebuilder clients and existed retail base, augmented with new customer wins.
And an OEM supply contract from the Fortis Buying Group is expected to further accelerate this growth in the coming financial year.
At the heart of the company is product research and development, with Vado boasting a prolific portfolio of products.
In 2019, alone, Vado redesigned its Life mixers, introduced the Individual Collection to reflect the trend for coloured tap and shower finishes, as well as launched a traditional brassware brand Booth & Co.
Most recently, however, Vado has built on the success of its Omika collection, which was designed in collaboration with Jo Love, introducing additional mixer models.
It’s with perhaps little surprise, then, to find the company was recognised by buying group PHG and recently presented its Brand Innovation Award.
Introducing Augmented Reality
But innovation hasn’t stopped with the development of taps, showers and bathroom accessories, Vado has also considered how best to present them to customers.
Using the latest technology, and following an investment of £150,000, the company introduced Vado Interactive Visual or VIV Augmented Reality (AR) app in 2017.
According to Vado, it became the first manufacturer to introduce Augmented Reality to the kbb industry.
VIV allows users to view Vado brassware “in full scale 3D from the convenience of their home, using an tablet or smartphone”.
Product and marketing director Angela Neve comments: “Our aim was simple. We wanted to create an intuitive, industry-leading app that could aid the consumer’s purchase journey whilst generating a fascinating interactive experience. Augmented reality provided us with that opportunity.”
She continues: “We knew that AR applications had the capability to portray a real-life view of a computer-generated image which would become the foundation to this experience.
“Consequently, by simply scanning a unique Vado tracker, we could perfectly replicate the scale, size and detailing of every product.”
Helping consumer decisions
VIV was created to support independent retailers, specifiers and end consumer with their purchase decisions.
Angela Neve says: “From our retailers’ point of view, this is a state-of-the-art selling tool that allows them to easily show any Vado product upon request in a fun, interactive fashion.
“For the consumer, VIV opens the door to bringing home their favourite VADO brassware and testing it out in-situ at home.
“By simply printing off a vado tracker, or picking one up from a local retailer, consumers can place it on the side of their basin, bath or shower, scroll through our portfolio and view their favourite products in any available finish in a 3D visual form.”
They can scroll through Vado’s portfolio and shortlist their favourite brassware by saving product to a ‘Favourites’ tab.
“Each product page includes a 360˚ view of the product, a link to technical information and their nearest Vado stockist.
Neve adds: “Consumers now have an opportunity to virtually bring their favourite brassware home and have all the information they need at their disposal, ensuring a more considered approach when selecting taps, showers and accessories.
“VIV is here to help those consumers who cannot visualise how their chosen tap will look with the basin or bath they have selected.
“With VIV, consumers can try before they buy which helps with purchase decisions.”
The app includes multiples lighting effect, so users can accurately see how the product will look in their bathroom and Neve says: “We have also recently introduced animations to our digital shower valves to accurately display how each valve operates.”
She exclaims with VIV, Vado wanted to “transform the customer purchase journey into a fun, unforgettable experience.”
Capturing sales attention
However, VIV benefits retailers and specifiers too, with “user-friendly navigation” to allow retailers and specifiers to quickly find products on their tablet or mobile; a more efficient process than flicking through catalogues.
And consequently the app reduces the need for catalogues. “We, like many manufacturers, want to make a positive impact to our environment and VIV introduces a first glimpse into a paperless industry”, explains Neve.
However, as Neve explains, VIV also “offers retailers the chance to disrupt the traditional buying process and challenge online competition by helping to create an interactive experience.
In today’s market, capturing consumers’ time and attention is harder than ever and we want to ensure all independent retailers remain the first point of contact when consumers look to renovate their bathroom.”
And the results speak for themselves, as Neve adds: “We are delighted with the number of downloads the app has received.
“You can often expect a slow start when introducing new technology to an industry however, with many of our customers understanding the benefits to their selling process, VIV has experienced rapid growth.” So much so, she adds: “VIV has vastly exceeded our expectations.”
Although still in its infancy, Vado has big plans to continue the development of the VIV app.
Neve says: “VIV is still very much in its infancy and we have big plans to continue its development.
“Primarily, we aim to have our whole product portfolio on VIV by the end of 2021, providing consumers with maximum choice when renovating their bathroom or kitchen.”
In addition to continue building the consumer experience and produce a greater picture of how the products work, Vado is also planning to add more animations to the portfolio.
“We’ve already received great feedback on our digital shower valve animations which clearly display the increase and decrease of temperature and flow; the next step is to now include animated mixers and concealed shower valves”, explains Neve.
She explains one of the biggest challenges introducing the app was to ensure consumers and retailers didn’t view VIV as a gimmick but as a presentation and sales tool: “But we can safely say that VIV is genuinely aiding the sales process.
“We have already had many cases where retailers have effectively sold products without having them on display, instead using VIV to show customers how they look.”
Certainly it has been the experience of contract sales manager at Mayflower Bathrooms Ian Williams who concludes: “The Vado VIV app has had a positive impact on our business. It’s changed the way we show customers products, they can now view items that we don’t have on display or in stock.
“It’s interactive, easy to use and our customers love to use it for themselves when showing their clients. There really isn’t anything else like it in the industry.”