Will customers try Kohler showers before they buy?
Letting customers try out products is proving to be a key element in maintaining physical retail’s appeal in a digital world. And one kitchen and bath brand’s new experiential outlet gives customers an opportunity to do full demonstrations of products that one doesn’t often get the chance to test in a store.
Kitchen and bath product brand Kohler has opened its first Experience Center in Manhattan, according to The Wholesaler. Opened in conjunction with distributor Best Plumbing Supply, the experiential retail outlet offers customers the opportunity to demo a range of kitchen and bath appliances — and even the brand’s “intelligent toilets.” The store features a “private bathing space,” for which customers can make appointments to try out high-tech shower and bath additions like sonic bathtub massagers and showers meant to mimic natural environments.
Showers, sinks, toilets and the bathroom remodeling that comes along with them are big investments. And if a customer installs something they’re not happy with in their home that can lead to stress and increased costs. But whether customers would do a full demo of a next-gen shower in an otherwise public environment may depend on everything from showroom layout to the individual’s comfort level.
Kohler is not the only home goods brand examining creative ways to let potential customers try out products.
Last year Williams Sonoma-owned furniture brand West Elm, for instance, announced it will open a line of boutique hotels where the company’s furniture and furnishings, such as bedsheets, will be available for purchase. The hotels are slated to begin opening in late 2018.
Kohler may also be taking cues from a high-end retailer that has been known to stock and demo some of its products. Last year, upscale home appliance retailer PIRCH opened an experiential flagship store in lower Manhattan offering live demonstrations. In terms of shower and bath offerings, the PIRCH concept gives shoppers the opportunity to test 38 different showerheads and book a steam shower in an “experiential home spa” called Sanctuary.
- Best Plumbing Opens First of Kohler’s Experience Centers in NYC – The Wholesaler
- Will opening hotels help West Elm sell more furniture? – RetailWire
- PIRCH’s in-store experience picks up where Home Depot leaves off – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your take on the value of experiential retail stores covered in this article? Do you expect that large numbers of customers will take part in these experiences? What is the likelihood that the test experiences will lead to better sale conversions?