Why IKEA is Thriving in the “Retail Graveyard”

This Swedish powerhouse really needs no introduction, with genius branding and advertising, they know exactly who they are, and so does the rest of the world. It was the brainchild of 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad in 1943 but has been named on Forbes’ World’s Most Valuable Brand list in May 2019. So how is this flat-pack furniture brand still ruling the retail industry and staying so relevant? The secret is staying ahead of the market in not only trends, but technology. Every furniture seller should be taking a leaf out of their infamous catalogue to share some of the success. And here’s how.

 

In April 2018, the retail giant realised that it was facing a problem: it hadn’t been keeping up with the digital world and this sparked a shift in their business development strategy. Although IKEA has been ahead of other furniture companies, technology had been globally advancing, leaving many retailers behind. They started by investing in “personalisation at scale” allowing it to send precisely-targeted communications to people based on what they are doing online. “When people buy a bed, they actually spend two weeks researching online. There is a lot of information that we gather so that we can actually be relevant to the person wanting to buy a bed in those two weeks”. -  Barbara Martin Coppola, IKEA’s Chief Digital Officer, talking to CNBC.

 

The key to this strategy shift was the incorporation of CGI on a large scale. The Swedish furniture company has been aggressively ramping up its use of computer generated imagery in their catalogues, starting in 2006 with their first CGI photo of a Bertil pinewood chair. By 2012, the Wall Street Journel reported that 25% of their products were computer generated. And with its rapid globalisation, with products reaching multiple cultures CGI and 3D rendering is invaluable.

 

The newest addition to IKEA’s futureproof strategy is the Place app. Allowing customers to place IKEA furniture into their own home, digitally, before purchase. It automatically scales products – based on room dimensions – with 98 per cent accuracy. Customers can see the texture of the fabric, as well as how light and shadows are rendered on furnishings.

 

The secret to IKEA’s success? Always being one step ahead. Especially in technology. With retail ever struggling, a business strategy that constantly stays ahead of technology and is digitally driven will drive sales and success. And what is the first step to the forefront? 3D rendering and digital marketing. It all started with the humble furniture visualisation. Once a company’s products are rendered, it opens a world of possibilities that are then ready-made.

 

To talk about how your products can be digitalised, get in touch with us today.


Orbital Acquires Contracts For Duresta, Cotswold Co and Style Library

Adding to what has already been a fantastic year, Orbital Vision has acquired contracts for three of the biggest furniture and fabrics companies in the UK; Duresta, The Cotswold Co. and Style Library.

 

Duresta is a highly successful and infamous brand, who has been crafting upholstered furniture in Long Eaton since 1938. Part of Sofa Brands International, Duresta followed quickly on from their sister company, Collins and Hayes after seeing the impact of the team’s 3D rendering skills on their sales and opportunities . The marketing team at Duresta quickly built a great working relationship with the graphics team in our office which made their decision to create an account with us easy. We are pretty fun, what can we say.

 

In the last week, two more accounts have chosen to work alongside Orbital to transform their digital footprint, the first of which is The Cotswold Co. Known for their quintessential English cottage style selection of furniture and home accessories, they have tasked us with recreating their timeless, rural classics in 3D. Thy couldn’t say no after visiting our stand at The January Furniture Show and seeing no difference between our renders and real photoshoots, realising the potential time and costs savings they were about to enter into with our team working alongside them. Along with the fun of playing with our virtual reality headset at the show.

 

The second account win over the last week was Style Library. For the Scion brand, Orbital will be recreating legacy photoshoots along with digitally creating their huge selection of fabrics wrapping a number of different products to make their website more accessible, and is sure to roll onto other digital opportunities. Orbital were one of three agency options for Style Library, but after a visit to our home at The Exchange, along with seeing the standard of rendering and success Orbital achieved with Linwood, there was no question of the right team for the job. (The fact that we offer a killer lunch may have also been a helping hand).

 

We can’t wait to get our teeth stuck into the new challenges and projects that these accounts will bring to our desks, and feel very excited about growing our relationships with well-established brands in the industry.

 

*All photography credits to Duresta, Cotswold Co. and Style Library


Furniture News cameo written by Paul Farley, Editor-in-Chief

This month, Orbital Vision have made a three page cameo in Furniture News Magazine. A great write up courtesy of Paul Farley, Editor-in-Chief, explaining what we have been up to since our pledge at the January Furniture Show. Read the original article here

 

For those of you who missed it, Orbital pledged to create this years five winners of The Furniture Awards - Sealy UK, Weimann, Hartman UK, Parker knoll and ALF Uno - star products rendered in all it's photorealistic glory, using specialist 3D software. Furniture News checked in to see how the project was coming along...

 

We collected all reference imagery and photographed the measurements of the products in person. Using that imagery we then build the furniture in 3Ds Max.  Devil is in the detail and therefore the building stage is probably the most time consuming. We spent a lot of time ensuring that every piece of detail is spot on, including all the little imperfections that which make all the different to to a build looking real or fake.

 

Once the five builds were completed, the winners received a white-out of their product so they could sign off the overall shapes. We didn't apply any fabrics or materials at this point purely so they can focus on the shape.

 

Once they were happy, it was time to get down to mapping. This consists of setting up the product so fabric can be applied and where it sits on the Fram. It's a little bit like a digital jigsaw for simpler terms. Next, we look closely at the fabric - in order for us to get the best results, we treat fabrics as a separate part of the process and how we build the fabrics is all dependent on the type we're dealing with. From simple cottons, to fabrics with multiple layers and weaves to velvets.

With the products built and mapped, this can be rendered out in every different fabric option, at any cameo angle (including 360s). For most, the next step is to situate their product in a room-set.Like any photoshoot, we start by putting together a mood-board of the what look we want to achieve, and which accessories to use and colour scheme to go with. From here we build everything from the ground up, unique to the winners. A benefit of this is that the room-set is the free to use over and over again for upcoming projects, just by changing the colours and accessories, walls and floors to make it look like an entirely new room!

 

Reaching the final stage of the process, this is where things really come to life. With our super high-tech rendering machines, we can render out any model in any fabric range of different colours and even at any angle all with the click of a button. Everything is rendered in high resolution, so can be used in print, PoS, online and social media marketing.

 

Working with this years award winners has been so diverse for Team Orbital. From creating all the different types of furniture to also introducing our 3D services and showing the alternative to a traditional photoshoot.


5 Tips for Successful Digital Marketing Using 3D Rendering

Product 3D rendering is the best way to get unlimited numbers of marketing imagery fast. Not just images looking good on the website, but images that make visitors click the call-to-action – have a look at the website, learn more about the item and finally make a purchase.

 

So, Manufacturers and Marketers use 3D product rendering services to get creative marketing images. Group and hero shots, plain backgrounds and lifestyles, detail, general, front and top view, with cutouts, customization features, colour solutions – 3D rendering software can create it all, you name it. Let’s look at 5 ways product 3D rendering makes digital campaigns breed results.

1. 3D Visualisation for Websites

When shopping online, customers expect to see at least 3 images of a product. Naturally, the more images, the better chances to get full attention of the audience. Product 3D rendering eases most customer concerns. 3D lifestyles show the types of environment the item looks best in, as well as dimensions and the decor that goes with it, whilst isolated shots highlight the main features of a product and show its design without distractions.

 

And let’s not forget about animation. 3D animations, panoramas, 360 views provide more information on the item and make for a pleasant customer experience. The viewer appreciates being able to turn the object around, zoom in, see the detail. Not only does it make shopping more pleasant, but in 2019, these luxuries have come to be expected, and the fickly customer is likely to leave your site in favour of another online shop which allows them to see all angles in a greater quality render.

 

Then there is increased SEO. Search engines favour relevant content. And images getting clicks are exactly that type of materials: they bring visitors to the website, lead them to explore its content and interact with it. So, the more successful images you have, the more chance you have of getting and keeping top positions in the search results.

 

Needless to say, each product shot needs alt and title tags, and descriptions. So when your high-quality, engaging product design renderings have well-written attributes with relevant keywords, search engine rankings will know that your page content is high-quality and therefore useful for your target audience.

2. Photo Realistic Rendering for Content Marketing

Blog is a must-have for successful product marketing. Sure enough, one can cope without it, but why missing on a sure way to increase brand visibility, drive more traffic to the website and build mailing lists. Product 3D rendering provides Marketers and Manufacturers with imagery to illustrate the articles. So that the blog visitors not only read about how to get a high-quality armchair, but actually see what should be inside owing to 3D cut-outs.

 

Not to mention the ease of seasonal marketing. With 3D rendering you can ever-change the colours, background and interior accessories that surround your product. Making it marketing ready for any season in an instant.

3. Product Visualisation for Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a powerful tool that can skyrocket profit. It’s the best way to reach out to practically any target audience, in the age of the internet. Successful social media campaigns allow to build hypes for product launches, increase brand awareness, and drive more traffic to the website. And product 3D rendering allows to get any kind of images for promotional campaigns, whatever the strategy and creative idea.

 

On Facebook, it always makes sense to tap into the power of 360 views and videos for customers to learn more about the product line and the brand itself. 3D visualizations in Pinterest and Twitter will make sure consumers find and pin or retweet your images when looking for inspiration.

4. CGI for Digital Advertising

Much of the power of digital advertising lies in the fact that that Marketers can measure results and kill the ad if it’s no good, or make changes. Unlike photography, product 3D rendering cost and technology allow for the images to be tested and altered without photoshoots and transportation fees. This way, your marketing team can test the image until they find which drives the most engagement. Which is great news for online advertising budgets.

5. Product 3D Rendering for Email Marketing

Email marketing campaign is a time-proven way to drive interested consumers to the website and even reactivate dormant customers. Combined with social media advertising, it has twice as much power.  Having a variety of 3D visualizations is incredibly handy for implementing strategy. Promoting new models, announcing events and sales – high-impact imagery is always handy to build communication with clients.

Digital Marketing Campaigns are now vital for the success of any company. If you feel like you are not making the most of your strategy, and need some advice or want us to send you an example of the flexibility of our renders on one of your products, get in touch with us at Orbital today.


Agency vs In House: Who Should You Hire for Digital Marketing

Should you hire in-house or hire an agency? When it comes to digital marketing, the decision can be critical.

 

It is a huge decision which must align with budgets, timelines, and long-term business strategy. Let’s not beat around the bush, we are an agency, so of course we will be slightly biased. But there is a reason that there are a huge number of successful agencies in existence, because they are a sensible business addition. Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why.

Skill Diversification

In general, digital marketers tend to have very specific skill sets. You have paid search specialists, social media masters, web content / developers, graphic designers, conversion rate rulers…and the list goes on.

 

But the thing is, digital marketing is too complex for one person to be an expert at everything. So, if you hire a paid search specialist in-house, you can expect them to do a great job at paid search. But what if paid search isn’t panning out? Or what if the competition is driving great results with an ever-evolving website?

 

What do you do then? Obviously, you could just hire a web developer and content marketer, but that may not necessarily be in the budget or you may not be completely sold on the idea yet. What should you do?

Diversifying Your Marketing

Companies that hire in-house often struggle to diversify their digital marketing efforts and completely align their branding with online materials and print materials for a cohesive and effective strategy. After all, investing in a new marketing channel is a risk. If you hire someone and it doesn’t work out, you’ve just created a very difficult situation for yourself.

 

As a result, these companies often end up stuck in one marketing channel. And, often, that channel isn’t even working that well. For example, if you’ve got a great landing page designer but terrible ads that are driving the wrong traffic to your site, you may have trouble getting good results from your campaigns.

 

Is that your designer’s fault? Of course not! But, if you’re restricting your marketing resources like this, you probably won’t end up getting the results from digital marketing that you’re hoping for.On the other hand, with a good agency, you have access to a wide range of skills and experience.

 

For example, at Orbital, we have a team that put their skills together to create successful websites and campaigns. Individually, each team member is good at what they do, but collectively, they provide much more value than any single person could. And, as an added bonus, since each team member is actively working with a number of accounts, they have a depth and breadth of experience that gives them insights they can apply to new campaigns and situations. We have the added bonus of also offering services like enVision and print marketing and design which will align all aspects of your marketing under one roof. Tempting, right?

What's the damage?

As a result, our clients don’t end up with account managers who have tunnel vision or who lose creativity over time. Instead, our clients get 6 sets of eyes on their account on a regular basis.

 

So, when it comes to skill diversification, should you go with an agency or hire in-house?

 

Really, when you get right down to it, this is a question of resources. For larger companies, it may be worth the investment to hire someone in-house to diversify their marketing efforts, although, when it comes to hiring Orbital, you get the best of a digital marketing agency, with 3D render and other exciting futuristic benefits on top.

 

After all, if your marketing needs are significant enough that they justify hiring a dedicated expert, you may get the best results from hiring someone to work on a channel full-time. However, for most businesses, agencies are a great option for diversification. Most companies don’t need (or can’t yet afford) to hire a full team of dedicated marketers, so working with an agency can be a great way to widen your marketing net without significantly increasing your overhead.

Conclusion

There are a lot of reasons why people pick an agency or simply decide to keep things in-house. Both are completely viable ways to grow your business. However, agencies offer a lot in the way of skill diversification, breadth of experience and value for money, which is why many businesses find that going with an agency is the best way to grow their business.

 

If this article has made you wonder if you are really getting the best from your digital marketing, and you think Orbital may be able to help you grow, get in touch with us today for a discussion on where we could take you.


Why Virtual Reality Will Soon Be the Only Way to Buy Furniture

Thanks to new technologies like augmented reality, 3D rendering and virtual reality, the furniture industry is finally ready to have its online moment. These are the latest tools designers and retailers are using to give clients a clearer vision of projects and purchases before they commit.

As we see the retail industry move away from brick and mortar we are seeing online only retailers start growing, in some areas overtaking high street shops. This is particularly surprising in the furniture and homewares sector, but we saw it in 2018 as online mattress companies like “Caspar” and “Emma” were topping mattress sales without a single brick and mortar shop. This really opens up a space for virtual reality as we see a gap in the market for endless opportunities to show products to the consumer without having to see a product in real life.

 

Books and music were the first products to really see success online. Without having to touch or feel the products, there was little standing in the way of a consumer clicking on the Buy Now button. Once user reviews were introduced into the mix, the ecommerce virus started taking hold of electronics too. When it came to clothing, it took a little more brain power. With consumers being used to trying on clothes and feeling the quality of fabrics, online apparel had a slow start. But it was nothing that next day delivery and free returns couldn’t fix.

 

Now, it’s furniture’s time to shine online, but the category requires completely new tactics. While user reviews help customers understand the quality and feel of products, they can’t help a buyer see how the piece actually fits in a room, which is the biggest obstacle we’re seeing when consumers consider the risks of buying online.

 

Furniture buying requires consumers to invest significant amounts of time and money choosing an item they will have to live with for many years. Add this to the thought that homeowners will want to see if a furniture piece fits in their space, and matches the current arrangements and products they already have in their home, virtual reality can really kick in.

We are seeing AR and VR crop up in certain home décor apps, even if it is still early and some are stilted. Take Dulux for example, although not perfect, their app allows you to take a photo of your room and place their paint colours on any wall, so you can preview the finished look without spending any time or money. Now imagine the success if this was available to interior designers and general homeowners in the realm of furniture. Superimposing that sofa you’ve been lusting after, into your current living room space – to scale – and in your chosen fabric. It’s important to envision the whole room, including pieces you own and pieces you’re considering purchasing. We don’t think that this new retail revolution is far off. But you know what they say – the early bird catches the worm. It is usually the businesses who nail these new approaches first that get the long-term results.

 

The future can be exciting, if maybe a little daunting. Orbital are working on their own Virtual Reality products to help retailers and manufacturers sell their products – keep your eyes peeled for updates!


Thank You from Orbital

After an incredible year of growth for Orbital in 2018, we kicked off 2019 in style with an incredibly successful January Furniture Show.

On 20thJanuary this year, we were all set up to see how a creative agency would fare in the UK’s biggest furniture show. With over 500 exhibitors and a record number of attendees, there was a real sense of optimism in the air. In a climate where there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding business decisions, the success of the January Furniture Show was a welcome triumph. And we at Orbital were no different.

 

With our whole team upheaved to Birmingham, it was business as usual. What better way to show you what we do, than show you what we do! Our team was busy building furniture in 3d and wrapping them in various fabrics whilst simultaneously creating room-sets to showcase the furniture. They were also demonstrating our product builder which allows users to select a piece of furniture and custom wrap the product, cushions, piping and more, in any number of fabrics and textures.

 

Amongst the thousands of attendees over the four days that followed, we had a huge number of visitors to our stand. Whether we can blame that on the fun we were having with our virtual reality headset, the constant supply of Haribo and coffee, or our designs, we will never know. Either way, we do know it was watching the team at work that secured an impressive number of new and potential clients and would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came to say hello. We are lucky enough to now be working on projects for the likes of Graham and Green, Sofa Sofa, Warwick Fabrics and so many more.

 

As well as those of you that we got to meet, and the interest you took in what we can do to grow businesses in the furniture industry, we also got to hear who the long-awaited winners of the Furniture News awards. The lucky five that were awarded for stand out products are in for a free room set build from us. As promised, after the winners were announced on the first day of the show, we started capturing images of the winners’ products before starting the 3D build on our enVision platform to create an invaluable marketing tool for the winning companies.

 

Make sure you keep an eye out for our progress updates and the finished products for the winners Parker Knoll, Sealy UK, Wiemann, Hartman UK and ALF. Maybe we’ll even have a game of spot the difference between the photographs and our renders, just to show what we really mean when we say you can’t tell the difference.

 

Have a sneaky peak at what we could do to grow your business here


The Exchange Launch Night

Just over a week ago, we celebrated the opening of our new home in Long Eaton, The Exchange.

 

Stepping into The Exchange, you are immersed into all things furniture. From our digital marketing agency for the furniture industry, to the BFM's new office, right the way to the 300m2 showroom. With The Exchange not just being an office space, it is a perfect hub for the industry.

 

To officially open The Exchange, Maggie Throup MP took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony, in front of fellow members of the Erewash Council and the Long Eaton Chamber of Trade, Directors of some of the longest trading furniture manufacturing companies in the area and of course friends and family.

 

The Exchange is a physical example of the intertwining network of the furniture industry, a place where you can easily spot a friendly face and feel at home.

 

All the team are so proud with the turnout from the night and would like to thank everybody who got stuck in and made the launch a huge success and a night to remember.

 

Thank-you to Linwood, John Sankey, Furmanac, Wood Bros and Futureglass for providing an eclectic mix of their stunning furniture ranges and bespoke accessories that were displayed around the showroom for attendees to admire.

 

As for the future here at Orbital, we really cannot wait to see what lies ahead.


The New Chairman for Heart of England Region

A huge congratulations to our very own Matt O'Flynn who has been appointed the position of new chairman of The Furniture Makers' Company ‘Heart of England’ fundraising region.

 

The Heart of England region will include Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland. The voluntary position will involve Matt organising a couple of events a year in aid of The Furniture Makers’ Company.

 

Matt is planning for the first event to take place this September to coincide with the Long Point Exhibition, organised by the Long Eaton Guild here at The Exchange, home to The British Furniture Manufacturers Association and Orbital Visual Marketing.

 

A few words from Mr O'Flynn himself: “Our new premises at The Exchange in Long Eaton has provided an exciting and dynamic new opportunity for the industry to come together in the heartland of the upholstery trade. Having spent a number of years serving the industry as both chairman of the British Furniture Manufacturers and the Long Eaton Guild, creating a regional base for the Furniture Makers seemed a perfect fit.”

 

For more information,click here

 

Congratulations Matt from all the team here at Orbital!


The Manchester Furniture Show 2018

Orbital were proud to support the BFM at the Manchester Furniture Show 2018.

 

This week, we kicked our Monday off by heading to Manchester for the greatly anticipated, annual Furniture Show held at the Manchester Central Conference Centre. Standing alongside the BFM (British Furniture Manufactures Association) and their newly revived exhibition stand, designed by yours truly, we were given the shining platform to showcase our virtual service – enVision.

 

A chain reaction of interest came as the word started to spread around the show. Manufacturers from across the board took a huge interest to what we offer within the service, from bespoke upholsterers and independent soft furnishing companies to wholesale giants.

 

Not only was it manufacturers from the trade, but it was great to see several courses being run in furniture design and production. Burnley College students can study for a HND in furniture design, diplomas in furniture making and apprenticeships in upholstery and furniture production.  Their stand in the Main Hall featured examples of the students work including desks, chairs, occasional pieces, screens and dining tables.

 

Let’s begin looking towards the future for all things enVision.