New for 2017, the Digital Initiative of the Year category, sponsored by Hoshizaki, honours a distributor, either traditional or online, who has really embraced the digital medium – whether it is for sales, service, technology, showcasing their capabilities or an innovative social media campaign. This can encompass everything from BIM, virtual reality technology, website design and function or utilising the Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn etc tools at their disposal.
Therefore the nominated companies are:
Catering Appliance Superstore
Catering Appliance Superstore has spent this year focusing on the enrichment of its online product catalogue to ensure its customers see as much information as possible about an appliance to make an informed purchase. It is also putting in the groundwork for a substantial launch of innovative new web services next year. These initiatives are paying dividends with the Kendal-based distributor on course for its first £20m+ turnover year. In fact it has recorded significant growth year on year since first trading online in 2010.
GastroNorth’s new restaurant-standard development kitchen, GastroLab, has its own digital platform to allow users to learn about the facility and book into upcoming events. The distributor has also introduced its own digital project management system which has helped to improve efficiency by closing the circle on communication between admin, designers, project managers and installation engineers, when working remotely. Additionally it has increased its online social media presence and use of videography to allow it to promote its message in a modern and efficient way.
Essex-based distributor Grey Simmonds has really embraced the digital world this year, as it has introduced an immersive aspect to its design capabilities. With 3D software already set up, the firm has pushed its capabilities further with full 360° walkthroughs of its designs. These can be viewed on devices such as tablets, laptops, mobile and VR headsets. This means end users can view their prospective kitchens instantly wherever they are, and also makes understanding designs easier than their 2D counterparts.
Lloyd Catering Equipment
Keeping at the cutting edge of technical development has been a key focus for South Yorkshire-based Lloyd Catering Equipment this year. The distributor has developed a new room-scale virtual reality system which is helping its designers and clients to test the functionality and workflow of a design prior to installation. The system uses a combination of movement and headset tracking within an area to accurately simulate moving in the virtual environment, allowing the user to move freely around a design in a natural and intuitive way.
Restaurant Design Associates has welcomed cutting edge technology into the company, introducing a virtual reality capability with headset and tablet compatibility, allowing end users to see a full 360-degree view of 3D visuals. Furthermore it has launched an online client portal through its website which allows clients and contractors to access designs, visuals and costs wherever they are in the world. Additional IT infrastructure investment for software and hardware is ensuring the distributor is well equipped to deal with its growth plan.