December 3, 2021

Cl Youth Theatre

Fashion, The needs of women

Virtual stores: Fashion’s new mode of shopping

Charlotte Tilbury, founder of the eponymous brand, says that the company conducted significant user-testing on what it calls the “Tilbury Metaverse,” and is the first Obsess client to add a “shop with friends” feature, in which people can send an invite link to others to explore the brand’s virtual store together through a video-call interface that is already familiar. “Consumers are used to social and interactive experiences in digital spaces, which e-commerce has lacked. But this is a fundamental part of the metaverse,” Singh says. Soon, Obsess will add the option for customer- and brand-created avatars to interact in the space. Already, customers can make appointments for virtual consultations.

Dogadkina advises brands to think differently about virtual stores than they would about designing a gaming experience. However, gamified elements can help encourage people to explore and interact, Singh says. For example, Charlotte Tilbury’s space challenges shoppers to find three golden keys to unlock access to a specific lipstick colour. Ferragamo has a gift-selection quiz, and an exclusive room for registered users. 

Shkolnik says that brands might create spaces that are entirely personalised or customised to each shopper, offer live engagement with celebrities or in-store concerts. “The really exciting leap, of course, is when you actually think about the medium allowing you to do something that has nothing to do with your physical store at all — something that customers actually want to walk around in, because the current status of e-commerce, just hopping on a web page with a bunch of Jpegs and filters, certainly doesn’t replicate walking into Neiman Marcus and having someone tell you what types of pants look good on you.” Plus, she adds, e-commerce, unlike stores, is still largely search-driven. “You’re not landing on it accidentally the same way that foot traffic does.”

Practical needs still apply

Successful virtual stores still have to remain earthbound in the sense that practicality and utility are essential considerations. For example, intuitive navigation, realistic 3D renders and access to customer support are all basic elements, Dogadkina says.

Obsess has found that the layout and path has to be very clear to the user; if there are a lot of options, people don’t go anywhere, Singh says, so perhaps counterintuitively, an easier path increases engagement. For example, even though Ferragamo’s virtual Italian villa includes multiple elaborate rooms, they are all within one straightforward back and forth path, versus a complicated floor plan. When people enter Tilbury’s space, a brief introductory “zoom out” video shows the entire space.