New Google service offers virtual showroom tours
Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, May 13, 2013
HIGH POINT - For all the retailers who didn't make it to the April High Point Market here and the TemaHome/Design 9 showroom in 220 Elm - the two suppliers are bringing their showroom to you.
A Google-authorized photographer visited the roughly 5,000-square-foot space on the eve of the market to shoot a 360-degree virtual showroom tour, featuring TemaHome's imported case goods from Portugal and Design 9's custom modern upholstery, along with goods from other sources sharing the space.
It's part of Google's Business Photos service, a fairly new program that's sort of like Street View scenes on Google Maps. But instead of a street view, users click on a photo in the Maps section and are taken on a panoramic tour of a store or restaurant or, in this case, a High Point showroom.
TemaHome's North America Sales Manager Mark Broemer first saw a demonstration of the site a week or so before the market while visiting customer Elemento Furniture in Miami. He jumped on it fast enough to get a local photographer to the High Point showroom and expects to have the tour online any day now.
At first, Broemer was concerned it would be a pricy venture.
It's not. The shoot ended up costing $530 - $250 for the first three 360-degree photos and $20 for each additional shot, although the cost varies by market and the photographers, who are independent contractors. TemaHome and Design 9, led by Michael Bellocchio, split the charge, and they had lots of extra shots taken to make sure they could zoom in on everything they wanted to feature.
Other than that, Tema just needed to register with Google for a business page, but that was free, part of Google's brilliant plan for world domination, Broemer said.
TemaHome and Design 9 will be sending their customers a link to the new Business Photos page, inviting them to take a look.
|Greensboro, N.C., photographer Chris Groch of SpinShoot.com shoots a 360-degree
showroom tour of the TemaHome and Design 9 High Point showroom in 220 Elm for a Google
Business Photos page and afer-market marketing for the two suppliers.|
"We don't get West Coast customers here, so it's a way to show them our new product," said Broemer.
But he added that it's also something retailers should be taking advantage of to draw customers in.
"It gives them more credibility, especially if you have a beautiful store," he said.
Lisette Senior, manager of the roughly 5,000-squarefoot Elemento Furniture in Miami, had the photography done for the store's virtual tour a couple of months ago. For $450, Elemento got a full online virtual tour of its midpriced to upscale showroom, featuring modern furniture, including many pieces produced from sustainable and reclaimed wood. The photographer also threw in a CD of about 70 images Elemento can use in its other marketing.
The tour has only been online for a few weeks, so it's too early to call it a marketing success, said Senior, but she's confident anyone who takes the tour will want to visit.
"I think it looks awesome," she said. "You can zoom in on any piece. I'm very happy with the photographer."
Information about Google Business Photos is online at http://maps.google.com/help/maps/businessphotos/index.html.
Elemento's virtual tour is at http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl. You'll have to enter "Elemento" in the search line and choose the store, then click on the image to take the tour.