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The global e-commerce apparel market was valued at a staggering $553.1 billion in 2021, with projections indicating a compound annual growth rate of 8.6% from 2022 to 2030. 

To put that into simpler terms: Online clothes shopping is gigantic and only continuing to grow. Shoppers are veering away from physical stores, a trend accelerated by the pandemic, and turning to their more digital counterparts. 

From changing consumer habits to sky-high costs, traditional brick-and-mortar apparel stores are facing a unique set of challenges. How can they stay relevant in a world that’s turning to screens instead of storefronts? 

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: 3D virtual stores.

What is a 3D virtual store?

A virtual store is an online digital space that replicates the feeling of in-person shopping using immersive technology and 3D rendering.

Online shopping is great—it’s convenient and quick—but something about scrolling for hours through 2D images is so… Should we say it? Boring. 

Virtual stores combine the convenience of online shopping with the immersive, engaging experience of in-person shopping. They offer the absolute best of both worlds. 

What challenges do physical stores face? And how do virtual stores counteract them?

1. Rising Costs

Apparel stores are no strangers to rising costs. With steep rental prices and growing utilities and inventory expenses, the financial burden often causes store closures. 

And if that wasn’t already enough? The pandemic has exacerbated these challenges. Fluctuating foot traffic and unpredictable consumer behaviour further squeeze profits! 

We haven’t even mentioned staff yet. Apparel stores need to employ stockers, cashiers, sales assistants, a store manager and even visual merchandisers and personal shoppers. 

Virtual stores could be the ultimate cost-saving solution for fashion retailers. By bypassing the need for physical infrastructure, virtual stores sidestep the expenses associated with brick-and-mortar buildings. 

No utility bills, no maintenance costs, no security. 

Brands can allocate resources more efficiently, putting savings into areas that are often overlooked, such as clothing quality, customer experience, and eco-friendly initiatives. 

As for staff? Virtual stores require no one! They can run 24/7 with 0 employees. 

If brands are missing that human touch, AI sales assistants can fill the personal shopper role. They can provide personalised recommendations to customers about clothing options and guide them through the virtual store experience.

2. Unsustainable practices

73% of millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable fashion. 

For fashion brands: It’s trendy to be eco-friendly. 

Excessive energy consumption, paper waste, and unnecessary travel often trap traditional brick-and-mortar apparel stores in a web of unsustainable practices. 

The volume of resources required to operate physical retail spaces increases the carbon footprint massively of apparel brands. 

But what do virtual stores do to combat this? 

Virtual stores drastically reduce energy consumption and waste generation. How? Because there’s no physical infrastructure in place. They operate entirely in the digital realm. 

Wanna know what else that means? Absolutely no fuel emissions are made to travel to a virtual store.  

There’s also no need to cut down thousands of trees to fund receipt paper, flyers and magazines. Virtual stores are paperless

Plus, by showcasing clothes in a digital environment, brands can reduce their need for physical samples, massively reducing waste (And production costs!). 

Going virtual is a no-brainer for sustainable brands looking to lower their carbon footprints while still retaining a dynamic atmosphere to rival even the trendiest boutiques! 

3. Local reach

No matter how stylish or innovative a brick-and-mortar store may be, its impact is inherently limited to the local community. (Or those willing to travel to the store’s location!). 

This limited reach can hinder important growth opportunities, especially in an era where shoppers crave convenience and accessibility! 

But what’s more accessible than a 3D store? 

There’s no such thing as geographical barriers when it comes to virtual stores. Virtual stores bring the vibrant fashion world directly to consumers’ fingertips, regardless of their location. Customers based in the bustling atmosphere of New York will have the same experience as customers based in a rural town in Texas! 

Exclusive location-based pop-ups can become inclusive for everyone. Fashion brands can tap into untapped markets and expand their reach like never before. 

More people = more profit! 

4. Unique factor

Standing out from the crowd is a daunting task for fashion brands. There are countless competitors vying for consumers’ attention. 

Physical stores have to continuously differentiate themselves to maintain relevance. But it’s expensive. Constantly changing window displays, holding customer events, and keeping up with decor trends… For smaller fashion brands, it’s a painful process! 

Virtual stores offer a completely fresh perspective on the concept of uniqueness. In the digital space, the possibilities for design are limitless. Brands can craft bespoke environments tailored to their own aesthetic and identity. 

Coquette, ballet-core, and pilates princess-style brands can plaster as many bows as they want on their walls. 

High-end boutiques can whisk their customers away to luxurious spaces without spending a single dollar.  

And sportswear brands can put their customers straight on the track. 

Apparel stores can provide their customers with an insanelyw shareable shopping journey that’ll shock them in the best way! 

There’s a virtual store for every brand

Take a look at some of Odyssey3D’s layouts, fit for any kind of apparel brand! 

Wrapping up…

So, what do you think? If you owned (or own!) a fashion brand, what would your virtual apparel store look like? 

Would you opt for a light, minimalist space or transport your customers somewhere out of this world? 

In the fashion space, one thing is very clear: The future belongs to virtual stores and 3D e-commerce, and a world of possibilities is waiting for brands willing to take the leap! 

And if you’re interested in a virtual store of your own, then look no further…