By S. A. Applin7 minute Read
The virtual store is back—and it’s the best retail experience we could have gotten during a COVID-19 lockdown.
Rather than resembling a printed catalog transformed into online form, as most e-commerce sites do, virtual stores use either 3D renderings of an environment or Google Street-View-like sequences of stitched-together photographic images of a physical location. They replicate neighborhood shopping, letting you walk through aisles and peruse items on display. They safely scratch the itch to be in a local store. But you don’t have to wear a mask, rush in and out, or worry about others not wearing masks or standing too close.
One example I visited for holiday shopping is Cost Plus World Market’s “World of Joy” virtual store, a pop-up online extension of the 243-store specialty import chain. Open only for the holidays this year, World of Joy allows customers to shop via a zoom-and-pan interface that works on PCs and mobile devices.