LIXIL vigorously develops online showroom and plans to use it by nearly half of its customers this year

Source:77° Global Furniture Media

LIXIL is one of the first companies to introduce the concept of an online showroom in the Japanese market to conduct online video conferences with customers.

According to reports, LIXIL, one of the world’ s largest sanitary ware groups, expects that by the end of 2021, half of its customers will use its online digital showroom service, because the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic has promoted changes in residential design and decoration methods, and people’ s consumption patterns have also changed.

Yugo Kanazawa, chief digital officer of LIXIL, said in an interview that consumers hope to combine physical and online showrooms in the post-epidemic era and become the mainstream way to experience sanitary products in the future.

At the beginning of the epidemic, showrooms all over Japan were temporarily closed. Most retailers mainly rely on face-to-face negotiations or orders via fax. LIXIL was the first to introduce the concept of online showrooms in the Japanese market to conduct online discussions with customers, one of the video conferencing companies.

Kanazawa said: "The use of online virtual showrooms is growing rapidly, so I very much hope that at least 50% of our customers will use the platform within this year.

Currently, less than 10% of LIXIL' s customers use its online showroom. And its competitor Toto launched an online showroom platform in May and said that demand for this service will continue after the epidemic.

One reason for the company' s investment in digital showrooms is that Japanese consumers' lifestyles are changing, and it is difficult for many people to spare a few hours to experience them in physical showrooms.

Before the epidemic, most LIXIL customers went to physical showrooms at least twice before they could trade. But Kanazawa said that the in-person visit can now be completed quickly through online meetings.

Last year, LIXIL decided not to participate in the industry' s largest trade show in Frankfurt. Instead, it spent 6 million euros (equivalent to the cost of participating in a two-week trade show) to create a virtual platform that is open all day long throughout the year.

"The virtual showroom will greatly change the sanitary ware industry," said Gerhard Sturm, LIXIL' s head of Europe, Middle East and North Africa markets. "This type of platform is very effective, spreads faster, is more scalable, and is more targeted than traditional trade shows."

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