Did you know there’s more to a VictoriaPlum.com bathroom than just great design and quality craftsmanship?
An incredible amount of work goes into identifying, planning, designing and launching any new product, to ensure it not only looks great and fits seamlessly with your bathroom layout, but is able to withstand the rigours of everyday use.
So what does it take for an initial idea to become a VictoriaPlum.com product?
I chatted with our Product Buyers, Jess Tomkins and Terry Charter. Experts in their field, they have a combined experience of over 40 years, and know exactly what it takes to develop products that are fit to grace countless homes up and down the country.
What does it take to create a VictoriaPlum.com product?
Adam: Good morning to both of you. You’re looking a little tired!
Jess: Yes, we’ve just this morning, got back from visiting some of our suppliers, which involved a flight and a fair amount of taxi rides!
Terry: It can be pretty exhausting, but we find, by going direct to suppliers and speaking with potential new suppliers, we can find the right products at the right price.
Adam: Great stuff! So let me ask my first question: What is the first step on the road to designing or creating a new product?
Jess: The first step is always to try and understand what our customers want. We closely examine customer reviews, feedback and product sales data of course, but we also look at design and colour trends and visit homeware exhibitions around the world to try and see what our customers will be looking for in the future, as well as today.
Terry: As Jess says, we continually study market trends, colours, materials and finishes, in order to deliver great products for our customers. It’s also important to look as far into the future as possible. Typically, it can take a long time to go from the drawing board to a product actually being ready for sale, so we are looking at trends two or even three years in advance!
Adam: How do you go from identifying a need for a product to actually designing it?
Jess: I'm lucky to work with some fantastic product designers from the UK, Europe and Asia, all of whom helped create a great looking range of products. I'll sometimes provide some design input too based on the needs of our customer; I might, for example, suggest a colour or finish that our customers have said they really like.
Terry: As well as looking great, it needs to be quick and simple for a bathroom fitter or plumber to install. I’ll ensure that we also build in elements that make fitting easier, like allowing a gap at the back of a vanity unit for pipework.
Focus on furniture
Adam: So, Terry. You’re the Head Buyer for all VictoriaPlum.com bathroom furniture. What do you look for in a furniture item?
Terry: Apart from making furniture that is aesthetically pleasing, I also make sure that we build in the functionality and durability that is required for today’s modern bathroom.
Adam: How do you ensure that VictoriaPlum.com products are good quality?
Terry: All of our furniture suppliers are fully audited on a regular basis to ensure they conform to our social, ethical and environmental policies. Our products are fully tested by international accredited agencies (SGS) and meet all required EN (Europe) and BS (British) standards.
We have quality control inspectors at all of our suppliers who carry out both “Dupro” (During Production) inspections and a full inspection before packaging and loading. All products are manufactured to meet our strict quality standards.
Using modern equipment and techniques we can produce a very high standard product at an economic price that suits our customers.
Spotlight on heating
Adam: Jess, if I can turn to you. You are Head of Buying for Heating. Now, I can’t help but notice that it’s currently summertime, and with the outside temperature at a more-than-comfortable 15 degrees C, surely no one is even thinking about heating at this point in time!
Jess: Yes, it may seem like the sun has gone to our heads a little, but in fact, summer is the perfect time to start thinking about heating. Despite the fact you’re far less likely to be using your central heating during these months, the bathroom is probably the one place in your home where a little extra heat is often welcome.
Adam: I must admit, my bathroom was a little on the chilly side this morning.
Jess: Yes, the good old British weather is as unpredictable as ever! At the start or even end of the day, we all like a nice warm, fluffy towel to wrap ourselves in when we step out of the bath or shower. Which is why it pays to think about fitting a heated towel rail with a heating element.
Adam: Can you explain what a heating element is?
Jess: Sure. A heating element is fitted to your towel rail so that it can work independently to your central heating system. It’s a great way to dry out towels or even wet clothes.
Adam: So, what do you look for in a radiator or heated towel rail?
Jess: Naturally, I always try and get the best possible value for money for our customers, but it's about much more than design and price alone. For heating products, the grade of steel being used, the precision of the welding, and the quality of the finish are all extremely important, not to mention the various British and European safety standards that need to be met. I need to be sure that the product will do its job day in, day out—so everything has to be right.
Adam: How do you ensure products are of the right quality?
Jess: All of our factories undergo strict audits to ensure they are up to the standards we require. Our heating suppliers, for example, have to check each and every product for water tightness at least 3 times during the production process. We then inspect every order before it leaves the factory, wherever it is in the world.
Shop furniture & heating
There’s no better time to sort out your bathroom storage and heating needs, with many of the furniture and heating products featured in this blog post forming part of our up to half price Summer Savings. Start shopping for your dream bathroom today.