KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Oct 28 2013

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Digital Assets Keep Manufacturers up to Speed with Designer Demands

ID-10046415By David P. Warren

Dog-eared pages, tear sheets and snail mail sample requests don’t tuck neatly into the “virtual office” we all work and play in these days. Manufacturers are churning out new digital resources to drive inspiration and product selection as fast as product is coming off the factory line – to fit the new digital-based, on-the-go lifestyle you and your customers have come to expect. From revamped websites to virtual catalogs, inspiration apps, in-store integrations and real-time social media updates, brands want to be available where, when and on whatever device you need them most.

In our industry, many manufacturers do not have the luxury of e-commerce direct sales, as their dealers, showrooms and wholesalers deliver the physical product. Instead, they have learned to position their websites not as a shopping aisle, but a showroom of their product offerings and a resource for designers to draw inspiration.

Highly visual, sharable content like that found on Pinterest and Houzz provides a familiar format for browsing. Thanks to these social sharing sites, clients are becoming more involved in the design conversation from the outset, pulling inspiration from sites and coming to you with ideas before you put pen to sketch paper. With the help of direct links to product sites and brands tagging themselves on boards and images, you can more easily find resources to make a client’s pinned dream become a reality.

Virtual Catalogs
To keep the latest and greatest products at your fingertips, some manufacturers have converted their traditional print catalogs to virtual catalogs that can be easily accessed online, offline and on various devices such as smartphones and tablets through Apple and Android Apps, as well as on laptops. With updates in real time, you and your clients can have access to the latest and greatest products, images and specs so you know what to ask for when you go into a store.

These catalogs also incorporate intuitive search functions that provide suggestions based on your search query. You may be looking for one specific product, but the catalog can show you a handful of other options that may also work.

Find something you love? Catalog pages can be shared via email, social channels or even stored offline for later reference. These online applications even allow you to take notes on pages – no need for old-fashioned dog-earing or sticky notes.

Syncing up with Showrooming
Retailers and manufacturers have come to expect and encourage designers to use both online and in-store resources to inform purchases. As noted previously, many manufacturers do not sell directly to customers. When someone finds inspiration online, they may not know where to go to make that inspiration a reality.

Retailers and manufacturers also offer more interactive point-of-purchase displays, provide in-store Wi-Fi and create applications that provide on-demand information to make design decisions easier. For example, Electrolux recently launched a mobile app called Electrolux Concierge that can provide product information by scanning images off of in-store, point-of-purchase material.

Armed with an arsenal of products in the palm of your hand, you can work and collaborate more efficiently in the office or on the go. What to do with those old catalogs? They work nicely as a handy step stool.

 David P. Warren, Digital Marketing Manager, Dal-Tile

This entry was posted on Monday, October 28th, 2013 at 5:33 PM and is filed under Business, Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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