Has digital provided the stop gap during a time of social restrictions or will it continue to be embraced by the kbb industry? Editor of Kitchens & Bathrooms News Philippa Turrell asks the question
An industry that prides itself on personal communication between supplier and dealer and, of course, retailer to end-user, the kbb sector had to swiftly adapt to restrictions during the pandemic.
Instinctively, digital become a greater influence in retailing. filling the gap to reach and maintain customer relationships.
With showrooms unable to open, social media and websites became the shop window, while Zoom and Microsoft Teams became the conversation initiator.
And businesses overwhelmed by consumer enquiries for new bathrooms and kitchens during lockdown, could turn to remote design services to help with the workload.
Most recently, exhibitions which saw either their doors closed or footfall restricted, due to COVID, embraced the use of digital or hybrid platforms.
The hi-tech appliance industry opted for the hybrid model at IFA, combining a scaled-down physical event with online presence, in 2020.
While this year, the more traditional bathroom industry saw global bathroom show ISH becoming digital-only.
Exhibitors and manufacturers created experiential online events – from virtual worlds and summits through to remote exhibition stand tours and presentations – to showcase around the world.
But as restrictions continue to ease, with the country aiming to lift limitations following June 21, what will that mean for the longer-term future of digital as part of the kbb industry?
Has the digital experience fulfilled its function or is it now an essential way to communicate and operate businesses?
Without doubt, social media is an unrivalled marketing tool that all accomplished kbb retailers will use to their advantage, showcasing their work and services.
Together, with a polished website, it provides information for customers 24/7, that few would dispute is a necessity for kbb businesses.
So much so, CEO of Bathroom Brands Stephen Ewer says brands and retailers need to give a greater focus to their digital reach.
So perhaps the biggest question over the impact of digital in the kbb industry will be on the exhibition scene.
Has digital just provided the temporary stop gap while social contact has been limited?
Certainly, few would argue it is difficult to replace the face-to-face meetings and ability to see, touch and experience new product at a trade show, using digital technology alone.
However, the investment made and reported success of digital event reach, by manufacturers, suggests it’s not just a short-term fix.
Digital has become an integral part of the kbb industry and it will be interesting to note how its adoption will evolve, alongside physical events.
It’ll certainly be interesting to watch.