Coronavirus pandemic update

LIXIL, one of the world’s largest toilet and housing groups, predicts that by the end of 2022, half of its customers will use its digital showroom, because Covid-19 has caused a fundamental change in the way houses are designed and refurbished.

Lixil Chief Digital Officer Yugo Kanazawa told the Financial Times that consumers’ combination of physical and online showroom experience will become a permanent feature of the post-coronavirus era.

“It won’t be reversed,” Kanazawa said, adding Digital transformation Will apply to the way the group interacts with its employees and business partners. “This is not just a Covid business. Now it is more permanent.”

After the coronavirus restricted closure of its showrooms across Japan last year, LIXIL In a conservative industry that traditionally relies on face-to-face interaction and fax machine orders, it is one of the first companies to conduct online video conferences with customers.

its Virtual showroomIt can be accessed via mobile phones, laptops and tablets. In the past 12 months, it has evolved from Zoom interaction to an experience using 3D images, augmented reality and other technologies, so customers can try a kitchen with more diverse designs than existing And the toilet is designed in the physical exhibition hall.

“The use of digital showrooms is growing rapidly, so I very much hope that we can reach 50% [of customer use] At least this year,” Kanazawa said.

Currently, less than 10% of LIXIL customers use its digital showroom. Competitor Toto began offering digital showrooms in May, but also stated that demand for such services will continue after Covid.

One reason for the company’s investment in the digital showroom is the changing lifestyles of Japanese customers, and many people find it difficult to find time for a two-hour physical tour.

Before Covid-19, LIXIL customers usually had to visit the physical showroom at least twice. However, Kanazawa said that it is now possible to quickly follow up in person through a shorter online session.

“By holding regular online meetings, we can shorten the time to sign the contract,” said Yoshie Nakamura, LIXIL’s showroom coordinator.

LIXIL also decided last year not to participate in the industry’s largest trade show in Frankfurt.Instead, it cost 6 million euros, which is the same as the cost of attending a two-week trade show, to create A virtual platform Open all day of the year.

The Grohe X platform received 70,000 views in the first week after its launch in March, and 4,000 appointments were made with customers from architects, designers to plumbers worldwide.

“This is a huge game changer,” said Gerhard Sturm, head of marketing for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa at LIXIL. “Compared with traditional trade shows, this type of platform is very efficient, faster, more scalable and more targeted.”

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