The concept of a showroom is nothing new for manufacturers and distributors alike. However, an experience centre, where a company allows its customers to see and interact with its products within a wider technology solution rather than as a single piece of kit, is a relatively new phenomenon. A cut above a standard showroom or even a trade show stand, the experience centre sets a new standard when it comes to showcasing the capabilities of products.
The latest company to adopt this setup is Midwich Group. The Group’s new Innovation House offers customers the opportunity to see its wide range of products in various settings, from classrooms to meeting rooms and even a high-end, luxurious home cinema.
Showing off products from five branches of the group – Midwich, PSCo, Holdan, Invision and Sound Technology – this multipurpose technology destination also boasts dedicated training rooms, R&D demonstration area, a service and repair centre, as well as warehousing facilities including specialist logistics and pre-delivery inspection. Prior to the official launch, PSCo recently welcomed TPi and several other industry press to the Bracknell facility. Greeting us at the door were PSCo’s Director, Stuart Holmes, and new recruit, Head of Brand Experience, Alex Couzins.
“This space is a real opportunity for people to come and see the products and test them out with side-by-side comparisons with other brands,” asserted Holmes when giving an overview of the space. Innovation House is the result of a journey the entire Midwich Group has been on since 2015. “The goal was to improve the customer experience,” stated Holmes. “It made sense to team up with others within the Midwich Group so customers didn’t have to take multiple trips to see all of the group’s offerings. This culminated in the Bracknell space, where customers are able to walk through various ‘sets’, all of which showcase a wide range of products hung side by side for a true comparison.”
Now fully functional, Innovation House boasts the UK’s largest multi-brand experience centre, showcasing more than 200 world-leading audio-visual (AV), Unified Communication & Collaboration (UC&C), broadcast, smart home, and rental solutions from 50 world-renowned manufacturers all under one roof. “It might not be the most popular idea with manufacturers,” admitted Holmes. However, he explained that the goal was to ensure that the right product gets picked for the right application.
This mindset even extended to the guides who work at the centre. “The team that we have here taking our customers on tours are all technicians and product specialists with years of in-the-field experience,” stated Holmes. “We don’t have account managers with sales targets taking people on tours, but instead an unbiased host who can walk customers through the range of solutions.”
Holmes explained that this meant that everyone that paid a visit to Innovation House got the same tour, giving a level of consistency. “We want to make sure we’re consistent with the advice, guidance and support that we are giving visitors, rather than a sales pitch.”
As well as the extensive demo area, customers are also able to take advantage of dedicated training, testing and demonstration facilities. After more than a year of remote working and social restrictions, the opening of this unique centre aims to safely reconnect the industry after what has been a turbulent year for many. “We cannot wait to welcome people to Innovation House,” commented Midwich Group Head of Technology, Jenny Hicks. “As the largest experience centre in the UK, a whole suite of technology will be on display, bringing together professionals from across our industry in one custom-built location.”
Midwich Managing Director, UK&I, Mark Lowe added: “Innovation House reflects our ambition to expand the depth and breadth of the services that we offer. We wanted to provide a destination where industry can reconnect and experience what great technology is on offer, all in one place. We feel like we have succeeded in delivering on our goal and we look forward to welcoming our partners to the site. We cannot wait to hear what the industry thinks.”
This article originally appeared in issue #262 of TPi, which you can read here.
Photos: PSCo & TPi