Sears in Second Life
IBM press release:
"Sears is committed to providing our customers with the best possible shopping experience and to looking for new and exciting ways to present our products and services," said Paul Miller, senior vice president, Direct Commerce, Sears Holdings. "The Sears Virtual Home combines the best of virtual worlds and 3-D environments so customers can experience Sears' products in a way that is closer to real life. Sears.com already provides innovative design functionality and this work with IBM in a virtual world is a logical extension of those initiatives."
"Our goal is to help Sears use these 3-D virtual worlds to transform how people shop, from simple appliance purchases to total kitchen makeovers. Customers would be able to test drive their entire dream kitchen in a 3-D virtual environment before it is actually built, which provides a powerful new tool to drive customer satisfaction and sales," said Sandra Kearney, director of virtual worlds and 3-D Internet, IBM.
Reuters SL desk:
"The operator of Sears and Kmart stores is unveiling “Sears Virtual Home,” a prototype showroom in Second Life, on Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
At the Sears virtual showroom, customers can do such things as change cabinet and countertop colors in a kitchen and organize a garage by customizing storage products.
Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Sears said it hopes consumers will eventually be able to redesign areas of their own homes from its online showroom by selecting washers, tools and furniture.
The Sears Second Life showroom was built in partnership with IBM, which has also created a virtual consumer electronics showroom with retailer Circuit City."CNET:
"At the Sears virtual showroom, customers can do such things as change cabinet and countertop colors in a kitchen and organize a garage by customizing storage products.
Sears said it hopes consumers will eventually be able to redesign areas of their own homes from its online showroom by selecting washers, tools and furniture."
"Though the build is still a work in progress, Ultravox Freeman, aka Mike Rowe, a senior project manager on IBM’s digital convergence team said, each of the floors will present different possibilities for taking advantage of a 3D online world like Second Life for showing off Sears products and giving consumers more functionality than they could get from a flat Web page.
“It’s currently one kitchen layout, but ultimately you’ll be able to bring in your own kitchen from Google SketchUp or another application,” Rowe said. “You’ll be able to place Sears products in the kitchen itself, change the countertops and cabinet facings. Ultimately, the entire Sears catalog will be available. We want to allow Sears’s customers to get the feel of what their kitchen is really going to look like, and then walk around in it.”
"The whole concept is one of discovering how to help people preview goods in their environment. We have this in a sort of different way with kitchen design firms who come to your house, measure up and render some shots for you on their laptop. This does not replace that but adds to the concept.
This was also built over the Christmas holidays, as a few other things you will see soon were, by an ever growing band of people."
"Electronic commerce, for all of its ease and convenience, still doesn't offer the same feeling of browsing a physical store. That's all about to change, however. The gap is narrowing as retailers enter the Second Life virtual world. Get ready for V-tail.
IBM and Sears today revealed that they are bringing the 120 year-old retailer into Second Life virtual world in a big way. The presence will include an area where customers can import their own kitchen and remodel it with Sears products. Sears plans to bring the entire catalog into Second Life. It's unclear if you will be able to buy products in Second Life and have them shipped to you, but you have to imagine that's the plan. However, the CNET/Reuters piece makes it sound like it's about driving foot traffic."
"What we're trying to do is help businesses bridge the virtual and the real worlds to benefit their customers," says Michael Rowe, senior project manager for virtual worlds and 3-D Internet, a group IBM formed last December.
Rowe and his colleagues are working with some two dozen clients. Only Circuit City and Sears have been announced.
IBM is betting that a Second Life-style 3-D interface will become a popular alternative form of navigating both the Internet and corporate networks. It aims to be a major contractor in these virtual worlds. Though Virtual Reality Modeling Language -- a format for 3-D graphics on the Web introduced in the mid-'90s -- never really caught fire, perhaps IBM is on to something."