The recent demise of Comet has demonstrated how far the online industry has come in recent years. The spectacular success of internet sales is being partly blamed for the equally spectacular crash of Comet. Though there are certain items that just cannot be bought and delivered using the internet.
Our industry sells one of those products. Windows, doors, conservatories, orangeries, roofline etc are products that still require a much more personal touch. All our products are very much bespoke products and not something we can generalise on a website and put it up for standard purchase. We sell products that are produced to the nearest millimeter, made in any colour on earth with different wood grain effects, with different cill sizes, hardware styles and hardware colours. Quite simply, you’ll never be able to transfer our products to an easy-to-use online ordering system.
This is also where the showroom becomes vitally important. Our products still need that special place to be shown off and made to look fantastic in all their splendor. Again this is something that the internet just cannot match. Putting the product in a customer’s hand, letting them see it in the flesh as it were is still one of the best tools we have out our disposals. A screen just can’t replace a well done showroom.
What I do think the industry needs to do better though is adapt to the web a bit better. Despite having a good showroom, a window company still needs a good website. The internet is here to stay and is being used for literally everything, so you have to be part of it in this world. Like Argos now uses the internet as the main driver of sales and it’s stores as the final point of collection. Our industry should set up a similar sort of system. Companies need to use their websites as one of their primary sales tools and GENUINE lead drivers, and then use the showroom as the place to impress upon people the quality of their products and a place to sign up contracts. We use the showroom for exactly this purpose and by our reckoning we sign up 4 in every 5 people that come to our showroom.
So despite the continuing failure of the high street and the continuing rise of the internet, showrooms in our industry will continue to play a vital role in the sales process. There are other very valuable uses of a showroom other than sales, but I shall leaves those for another post!