Bespoke solutions to ceramic tile display challenges

Bespoke solutions to ceramic tile display challenges

November 2017

More than 80% of tile display expert Vision Display’s sales are made-to-order bespoke items, with the balance of sales being popular display products, manufactured in advance, ready for next day delivery.  Here Dave Akerman offers his take on the market.

Vision Display has been providing specialist tile and stone displays in the UK for over 20 years.  The company has, at one time or another, supplied displays to most of the industry, from the smallest tile outlet to the largest distributors.

The company’s vast range of display products includes simple products, such as metal wall mounts for single tiles, right through to a whole showroom design and installation service, and almost everything in between.

“We have seen many changes in tile display over the last decade and, as a company, we have had to continually evolve along with our customers’ demands to ensure that we supply products that are relevant to today’s market,” explains Vision Display’s Director, Dave Akerman.  “Those demands mean that we must be able to manufacture endless variations of displays quickly and efficiently.  Gone are the days when we just used to be able to sell clapper displays or donkey cradles and expect our customers to be satisfied.  Our business is now mainly about producing bespoke variations of display items to enable our customers to get exactly what they want without compromise.”

“This means having to provide a wide range of options and has lead us to building a substantial product portfolio as our business has developed.  The only area that we don’t currently push ourselves into is the ‘cheap-as-chips’ high-volume/low margin handboard market.  Due to the way that we manufacture, it is not cost-effective for us to compete with the major European manufacturers on these products for a potentially low return as they would clog up our facilities which can be put to better use with other products.”

More than 80% of Vision Display’s sales are now made-to-order bespoke items, with the balance of sales being made up of popular display products, manufactured in advance and then kept in stock, ready for next day delivery.  In order to be able to service this shift in demand for product types has meant that the company now employs a team of three full time designers who carry out everything from re-design of existing displays to a full showroom 3D concept design and manufacture process.

”Tile display is in our blood and we look and listen intently to what our customers are trying to do to get the maximum sales out of their products, constantly using our experience to advise or adjust ideas as required,” states Akerman.  “Sometimes this means having to carefully try and re-educate our customers to forget what they think they know and to consider what else can be done?”

“A recent example of this is our ‘vertical array’ display for wood plank and large format tiles.  These product types are getting increasingly larger and more difficult to display.  To keep costs down most customers tend to opt for a loose tile display of some sort as opposed to large, grouted-in versions. History shows that most enquiries start with a request for a traditional slotted base where the products are stood behind each other, front to back.  These do work to some degree but can also make it difficult for each individual product to be viewed properly, apart from the one on the front of the display.  Then comes the question of removing a large tile from the display, which can be especially difficult if the selected tile is buried further back in the display order.  Unless there is plenty of room at the side of the display to gain access - which is rare - then this can involve either removing every product or, even worse, attempting to lift an awkwardly heavy tile over the top of the products in the way which can be dangerous and risky to do.  Putting the sample tile back into the display also often means working blind, another challenging task in itself.”

“We knew there had to be a solution to this, so we came up with our large format, vertical array stands,” continues Akerman.  “These displays have a series of grooves in the base panel with an upper level of support slots which hold the tiles firmly and upright at two points.  The tiles themselves are displayed at a 45o angle and run across the display in a linear fashion, as opposed to sitting behind each other.  This means that every specific product can be viewed and handled independently of the other tiles on display in a safe manner.  These displays also feature a ‘criss-cross’ base with slots running in opposite directions and the ability to be able to reverse the upper panel easily.  This allows the tiles to face either left or right, whichever suits the flow of the showroom better.”

“We make these displays to hold any quantity, size and thickness of tile and have recently manufactured batches of displays for several the UK’s major tile distributors who have seen the merit in the design of these products already.  This is a classic example of how the Vision team works hard to ensure that our display products are relevant to the tile ranges that are available in today’s market, which we see as a continual on-going process.”

This ethos is also apparent in the introduction of Vision’s WET (waterproof exterior tile) displays which are manufactured from a material that is suitable for permanent use outside, enabling the company to supply many of its current designs for external use all year round.

Another example of how Vision help their customers is the in-house production of short, informative videos which help explain some of the features and benefits of their display products.  

“In today’s world most people want instant gratification and the use of video for this purpose is all around us, from our mobile phones to social media,” explains Akerman.  “Sometimes a 30 second video can tell the whole story about a product better than written explanations.  Our marketing department is constantly adding new videos to our website and You Tube channel for those who prefer this avenue for their information”.

These days Vision Display has become well established in the flooring display market, designing and manufacturing displays for most parts of the flooring industry, particularly the LVT and hardwood timber flooring sectors.

“This was an obvious step for us as many of the display disciplines from our tile displays have much in common with, and are relevant to, the solid flooring market.  Here, once again, we have been able to introduce innovative ideas and designs to keep things moving forwards,” concludes Akerman.

All of Visions’ display products are designed and manufactured in-house at the company’s workshops near Canterbury, Kent.
T: 01227 832265
E: sales@visiondisplay.co.uk
W: www.visiondisplay.co.uk

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