Caesarstone sees 800% rise in online showroom visits
The Coronavirus lock-down forcing the closure of Caesarstone’s studio showroom at its headquarters in Enfield, London, did not stop people visiting – but they did it virtually.
Jonathan Stanley, Vice-president Marketing, says visits to the online showroom, which you can guide yourself through with the click of a mouse, shot up by more than 800% in the four weeks following the lock-down.
It’s an indication of the growing role of information technology in all aspects of construction. People who had never even heard of Zoom before the pandemic have discovered the world of video conferencing is not so threatening after all.
Caesarstone has been giving CPD and design training courses using the technology, principally to kitchen and bathroom design studios. The benefit over a video presentation alone is that it is live and questions can be posed and answered in real time by people talking to each other.
“We’re spending up to an-hour-and-a-half with studios on Zoom each session, often with five or six designers at a time,” says Jonathan.
Caesarstone has also been supporting the fabricators of the newly formed Worktop Fabricators Federation, officially launched on the Caesarstone stand at the KBB exhibition in the NEC, Birmingham, at the beginning of March.
Caesarstone is one of the six founding anchor sponsors of the organisation. The others are ASM, Cosentino, Neolith, Roccia and Stonegate.
“We have been discussing best practice with the WFF,” says Jonathan. “They’re advising their growing membership what best practice looks like.”
Because the lock-down came without much warning, some kitchens were in the middle of installation and had to be completed. Caesarstone worked with the fabricators to make sure they were. It has continued to receive products from its factories in America and Israel and has had no problem maintaining distancing in its large warehouses in London and Manchester.
“We have been using the lock-down as an opportunity to get our distribution centres in shape,” says Jonathan. “It’s only out on site there’s been this ambiguity.”
As the return to work continues, Jonathan says: “We’re trying to do what we can to help people. We all need to come out of this. The world has turned, so it’s being sensitive to the position everyone is in.”
Research & Development for new products continues at the Caesarstone headquarters in Israel because new products normally take two-to-three years to reach the market. But the spring launch of products previewed at KBB has been put back to September. Jonathan says that while product launches raise the profile of the company, it does also talk to customers about other aspects of business.
In the meantime, Empira White, launched last year, remains a best seller and the industrial chic Rugged Concrete launched in 2017 has become a favourite as the aesthetic has become increasingly appreciated.
With the Bank of England presenting a scenario of an economic fall of 14% for the year as a whole, the short-term does not look brilliant. However, Jonathan says: “Nobody is going on holiday any time soon, so they might be at home looking at what needs doing and make the decision to spend the money there instead.”