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Brief Published: 16 Jun 2020

DIY Retail: Wickes’ Covid-Combatting Virtual Design Service

Wickes' virtual design service

British DIY retailer Wickes has launched a new, free virtual design service, allowing customers to plan home upgrades and renovations with its kitchen and bathroom design consultants from the comfort of their homes. The initiative is part of its plans to entice consumers who want to improve their abodes, but are reluctant to venture into stores.

Home and garden e-commerce spending has risen significantly during the pandemic, as consumers in lockdown with nowhere to go prioritise home improvement – see The Brief. While DIY retailers were some of the first shops in the UK to be allowed to reopen under government rules, they’ve also been subject to strict social distancing guidelines. The new virtual concept circumvents limits placed on services such as design consultations and even paint mixing – both considered a risk. 

Customers are able to request appointments via Wickes’ website or by phone. Prior to video consultations, the retailer sends a guide on what to expect from the sessions. Consumers are then matched with a local design consultant, suggesting that the retailer believes local connections will be increasingly important post-Covid. Sessions last between one hour and 90 minutes, via video call.

Consumers are encouraged to show consultants around their homes, while consultants are able to provide virtual walkthroughs of showrooms. Customers can also share visual inspiration with their consultant thanks to a screensharing tool, and request material samples to assess the look and feel of different surfaces and treatments.

The consultants can also advise on how to accurately measure a room’s dimensions, guide consumers through installation options, and screenshare 3D models of potential design ideas, allowing the two parties to make changes together. The consumer is then provided with an itemised quote, with customers able to make payments over the phone.

Also look out for our report Igniting Interiors E-Commerce, publishing on July 28.