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Welcome to the future of shopping: Virtual stores.

That’s right. It’s 2024, and the future is now. 

3D virtual stores are revolutionising the e-commerce landscape with immersive, interactive experiences that blend the physical and digital worlds. They’re phygital, if you will! 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…

What actually is a virtual store?

3D virtual stores are digital shopping environments that mimic the experience of browsing around physical stores using three-dimensional technology. 

Unlike traditional e-commerce websites that display products as images and text, virtual stores create fully interactive and immersive environments. Customers can navigate these virtual spaces and explore products in full 3D, much like they would in a physical store!

Types of 3D virtual stores

3D virtual stores come in various formats, offering unique experiences tailored to different business needs and preferences! Here are the main types of virtual stores that you may encounter: 

1. Virtual reality (VR) stores

VR stores use virtual reality technology to create immersive shopping experiences that customers can interact with via VR headsets, such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. These stores often include interactive elements, such as the ability to ‘pick up’ products or play mini VR games. 

These stores are perfect for pop-up events, where the business can provide VR hardware, but their more general disadvantage is that most people don’t have VR headsets readily available. (And they’re costly!)

2. Augmented reality (AR) stores

AR stores blend digital elements with the natural world using augmented reality technology. Think of those funny TikTok filters you love to use or that dancing hotdog on Snapchat in 2017 that had everyone in a choke-hold. That’s AR technology. 

So, how does this translate to shopping? 

Businesses with AR stores can let their customers try out their products digitally! For example, a customer on the hunt for a new table can use the IKEA app to see how well the table would match their living room so they don’t make a horrendous mistake.

3. Virtual showrooms

Virtual showrooms are 3D environments (Suprise!) designed to showcase products in a realistic setting. They’re most commonly used by automotive companies, real estate firms or high-end retailers to provide a lifelike, formal experience of their products. 

For example, a car manufacturer might create a virtual showroom where customers can see different car models, customise their features and virtually sit inside the car!

4. 3D web stores

You might be wondering, how is a 3D web store different from anything we’ve just mentioned? 

There are two significant differences: 

  1. 3D web stores are accessible via all devices. You don’t need unique VR technology to access them; you can use your standard web browser. 
  1. They’re the most affordable choice for businesses. Oh, and they’re limitless! 

While virtual showrooms replicate formal environments—like literal showrooms—3D web stores can be whatever the business wants them to be. From space stations to tree-houses, the options for creativity are endless. 

Check out some examples below!

Benefits of 3D virtual stores

Why would a business want a virtual store? 

The benefits. Virtual stores offer numerous benefits for both businesses and customers alike. Let’s take a closer look at their advantages:

An enhanced customer experience

We’ll start with the obvious one. Shopping in a virtual store is far more engaging and enjoyable than on a standard 2D website. 

Imagine opening up an online bikini site to buy some summer pieces and finding yourself standing in a glamorous, beachside resort – with the sun beaming down on you.

In virtual stores, customers experience a sense of presence that online stores simply do not match.

Convenience for customers

Not only do virtual stores provide extraordinary experiences, but they’re also incredibly convenient

You can access a virtual store from the comfort of your bed, at any time of night, anywhere in the world. (So long as you have wifi!). 

This 24/7 accessibility means customers are no longer bound by the operating hours of physical stores or the limitations of geography. An insane experience is only a click away!

Improved product visualisation

What is an e-commerce owner’s worst nightmare? Returns. 

They’re costly and time-consuming and often stem from customers receiving products that don’t meet their expectations. 

However, 3D virtual stores help mitigate this issue by allowing businesses to display 3D models of their products, enabling customers to see them from all angles. 

This improved product visualisation helps customers make more informed purchasing decisions and reduces the likelihood of returns! Hurrah! 

Cost savings + scalability

Virtual stores eliminate the requirement for physical space, reducing overhead costs such as rent, utilities and in-store staffing. Businesses can reach a global audience without geographical limitations, opening up new markets and customer bases that would be difficult to access through traditional retail. 

Moreover, they’re highly scalable. They can grow with the business, being easily updatable and scalable to accommodate new products or marketing crazes! 

Enhanced engagement and higher conversions

The interactive nature of 3D virtual stores naturally encourages longer browsing sessions. Customers are far more likely to make a purchase when they are more engaged. 

In addition, the novelty of virtual stores can generate buzz for the brand. When else have you ever shopped in outer space? They provide free word-of-mouth marketing! What more could a business want?

How much does a virtual store cost?

Let’s talk money. These amazing benefits must come at a high price, right? 

Wrong! Virtual stores can cost as low as $0. We’re not joking.

They can also cost hundreds of thousands, depending on who a business might choose to partner with to create their virtual store, but don’t worry about that. We’re going to show you how you can set up a virtual store for free. 

A free virtual store?

Meet Odyssey3D, a ground-breaking Shopify plug-in that integrates a 3D web store into any existing 2D website. 

Any business on Shopify can download Odyssey3D and set up a virtual store in seconds. 

How does Odyssey3D work?

Odyssey3D takes all the technical coding out of virtual store creation, eliminating the need for expensive developers. It’s built specifically for SMBs, so it’s incredibly cost and time-efficient. Odyssey3D has an ever-expanding range of ready-made virtual store layouts that are suitable for all industries, and they’re always adding more niches.

Once a business has downloaded Odyssey3D from the Shopify app store, launching a 3D space requires only four simple steps:

  1. Choosing a plan 

Odyssey3D has two available plans: Roam and Forge

Roam is free, so it’s perfect for businesses looking to experiment with Web 3.0 technology and experience some of the advantages of having a virtual store. Forge is $10/month and unlocks extra customisation tools, like the ability to customise their virtual store colours and textures and upload their own 3D products. 

  1. Adding their branding 

The layouts are ready-made, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t be unique! Brands can upload their logo and tagline to personalise their virtual store’s entrance. 

  1. Picking a virtual space

What’s the most fun part of owning a virtual store? The design, of course! Odyssey3D offers a range of beautifully designed layouts to choose from, and its developers are constantly adding more. In this step, Odyssey3D Forge users can make creative adjustments to the space, including adding ambient music, uploading 3D assets, and adjusting the colours and textures of the virtual space. 

  1. Adding the 3D store to their Shopify template

One of Odyssey3D’s most popular features is that it doesn’t replace or overshadow any brand’s website; it just integrates in as a section. To add the virtual store, a business owner just has to open the theme editor, hover over the ‘add section’ button, and select Odyssey3D from the apps tab. 

The actual app block is customisable, so the aesthetic of the cover can be changed to match the website perfectly!

Wrapping up…

Wow, that’s a lot of information! 

3D virtual stores are transforming the retail landscape by offering immersive environments with unparalleled benefits! There’s a virtual solution tailored to meet every business’s unique needs. 

With applications like Odyssey3D, creating a virtual store has never been easier or more accessible. Now, it’s not just the big brands with big budgets that can afford a virtual store. Businesses of all scales and sizes can reap the benefits without breaking the bank! 

So, what do you think? Would you integrate a virtual store into your business?