Does e-commerce need 3-D shopping?
One Australian startup is introducing a graphical online marketplace that promises to bring the “tangible, holistic shopping experience” that’s missing from online shopping.
The platform, called the 360 Mall, offers a 3-D interface that simulates moving around and shopping in a physical space.
“It really feels like you are inside the store,” said creator Alex Danieli in a press release. “Shoppers are able to walk around virtual stores using their keyboard. They can even pick up products and interact with them.”
The shopping environment works on mobile devices as well desktops and has beta tested successfully with 50,000 customers who’ve shopped more than 100 retailers. The release cites research showing that 48 percent of current online shoppers would shop more if online sites were more engaging.
While a promotional YouTube video from 2012 announced the imminent launch of the 360 Mall, the recent press release indicates that the solution has not been available to the public since its beta test and that the creators have been working to enhance the product. Said Mr. Danieli, “Since re-opening our retailer program this month, we’ve attracted interest from over 30 high profile labels … and we have some big names launching next month.”
The startup is positioning 360 Mall as a way for retailers to stay a step ahead of Amazon as it expands into Australia.
A simulated physical shopping experience may seem to move in the opposite direction of some current e-commerce trends, like the increased degree of automation in purchasing and replenishment Amazon and others provide. However, for that segment of the population playing increasingly realistic video games that involve moving through virtual environments, the experience may seem natural.
Retailers could face some hurdles, though. If 360 Mall stores mean to reflect the interiors of their physical counterparts, maintaining accurate on-site inventory could be difficult, given that it’s tough enough in regular omnichannel arrangements.
- Update: 3D Online Shopping Platform Has 100 Retailers and 50,000 Users in a Frenzy – 360 Mall
- Australia’s First Virtual Online 3D Shopping Centre | Pre-launch Ad | The 360º Mall – YouTube
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Given its momentum, does online retailing need 3-D experiences to advance forward? What advantages and disadvantages for retailers do you see in using 3-D for e-commerce?