Fisher & Paykel is changing the way we think about kitchen design. Customer habits are evolving, and the way businesses engage with the people needs to move with this. As Mark Elmore, General Manager, Design Integration at Fisher & Paykel explains, their new Experience Centre is designed for inspiration, engagement and information.

"Purchasing behaviour has changed and customers have taken control of their path to purchase: it's increasingly non-linear, omnichannel, and multi-device," he says.

"Customers now expect highly integrated experiences with physical, digital and human elements."

So what can you expect from these new Experience Centres?

"A tactile, immersive experience"

Where traditional showrooms focus on the sale and the retail aspects of kitchens, the Experience Centre offers something more. Elmore describes it as like a showroom, but with greater interactivity and customisation.

There is a curated selection of kitchen products, 2D or 3D models and layouts, and in-house design experts or cuisine specialists on hand to answer customer questions. Essentially, it gives you the full experience of planning a kitchen, complete with tactile interaction and customisation.

It is perhaps best exemplified in the 'domino' blocks system that form part of the plan and choose table at the Experience Centre. Customers can mix and match different gas and induction elements in Lego style as they see fit, and there is always help nearby if you want to find the element that will grill your steak perfectly.

The personalised and playful experience sets it apart, and has already been received rapturously from Manhattan to Sydney.

In tune with tech
Elmore also notes that people have tended towards online shopping for their kitchen needs, but overwhelmingly desire a tactile, tangible experience in addition to this. To scratch this itch, the Experience Centre provides an engaging wish list system.

Elmore explains:

"Upon entry, guests are handed a NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled pen, that's linked to their mobile phone number. When they see a product they're interested in via the digital touch screens, they 'tap to collect' – this information is then compiled into a personalised microsite."

"The wish list can then be easily accessed by the client from home, or referred to their designer or architect."

With digital touch screens available to browse stock that isn't exhibited in the showroom, Fisher & Paykel has embraced tailored technology to provide an engaging and personalised experience for its customers. 

The future of retail?

While the Experience Centre is not a storeroom as such, Elmore believes it is a crucial step forward for the way the kitchen retail industry works. 
"Showrooms must be more than a three-dimensional catalogue," he says. 

"The landscape of appliance retailing has changed, and our Centres and new generation retail displays are responding to this by providing the inspiring, educational and tailored  experience customers want."

Planning your kitchen design can be a stressful exercise at the best of times, and nobody wants to walk into a showroom just to see row upon row of refrigerators. With the initial response to the New York and Sydney Experience Centres overwhelmingly positive, this highly sophisticated way of presenting and planning your kitchen may soon find its way to a city near you. In the meantime, New Zealand shoppers will start to see Fisher & Paykel's new generation retail displays progressively rolling out in retail stores.