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In 2024… The year that the Metaverse will truly take the reins to reshape e-commerce.

How? Through the game-changing force of the virtual store.

What’s a Virtual Store?

You’re online and browsing through your favourite e-commerce store. You’ve got some Christmas money to spend on the January sales. You’re on the lookout for a fresh pair of Adidas Sambas. 

All of a sudden, you’re in an interactive space with a personalised avatar. Instead of physically scrolling through endless product listings. 

These spaces aren’t just pixelated copies of traditional brick-and-mortar stores. They’re immersive experiences. Browsing shelves, interacting with products, and chatting with store assistants feels as natural as strolling through your favourite store. 

Virtual stores blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds. They offer an experience that’s set to redefine how we shop and engage with brands in 2024.

Different Types of Virtual Stores:

Virtual Try-Out

Interested in redecorating your living room? You no longer need to rely on your imagination and hope for the best.

Apps like IKEA Place let you virtually try out furniture. Like how that ultra-modern glass coffee table would look on your intricately patterned Persian carpet…

Now you don’t have to make a terrible decision. 

Virtual Try-On

It’s not just furniture. Bershka’s app lets you virtually try on those tempting outfits before you hit the ‘buy’ button. It’s a personal fitting room in the palm of your hand!

Virtual Showrooms

Sometimes if you’re lucky, your favourite physical retail store has a digital twin. Virtual showrooms are 360-degree online views of actual locations. Like a more fun, shoppable version of Google Maps!

360-Degree Product View

No more being catfished by carefully staged photographs in 2024. 360-degree product views allow you to examine products as if holding them.

Virtual Store Plug-ins

These specialised plug-ins seamlessly integrate into e-commerce stores. They allow businesses to host their own virtual storefronts within their websites. They enhance customer engagement with features like 3D product displays and interactive showcases. So they bring a taste of the Metaverse directly to online shoppers.

Let’s look at our own app Odyssey, as an example. 

Odyssey is a free Shopify plugin. It integrates a fully functional 3D virtual store into existing 2D Shopify websites. Its easy-to-use interface and speedy set-up allows companies to bring their brands to life in seconds

This is a far more enriching, exciting way to shop for customers. And as for brands, they can enjoy 10X their usual website engagement.

Struggling to Visualise it?

We understand. An entirely virtual store seems like a pretty abstract concept. A concept too good to be true, even. But we’ve got you covered. Check it out for yourself!

If you’re still not convinced by the concept of virtual stores, here are some reasons you should listen to us. 

6 Reasons Virtual Stores Are Appealing in 2024:

1. An Immersive Experience

Our technology is increasing at an exponential rate, and it takes a lot to impress people. Brands need to stand out to capture their consumer’s attention. Customers want new, exciting experiences that are different from the norm. 

And we hate to break it to you, but a flat 2D website simply isn’t going to cut it any more in 2024. 

Virtual stores suit all industries. From health and wellness brands to tech companies and fashion brands. Imagine even the most traditional stores, for example, your favourite online bookstore. Watch as books take flight, delightfully soaring off virtual shelves. The traditional online bookstore can become as much of a story as the stories it sells. A place that customers will eagerly revisit as soon as they’ve had their first little taste. 

2. Social Experiences

One of the best parts about real-life shopping is the social aspect of it. Customers can go with friends and have meaningful interactions with other shoppers.

These interactions create memories. 

Memories associated with the store they were made in. 

Standard online stores don’t have this power. You can’t see other customers scrolling simultaneously, and even if you could, what fun would that be?

This is where virtual stores come in. They offer a unique social experience. Customers can gather with friends while exploring a brand’s virtual space. 

Odyssey facilitates a customer voice channel. Customers in the same virtual store can talk to each other as if they’re physically present. 

And for those customers who prefer a more private experience? No problem. Odyssey grants store owners the freedom to set their own boundaries. They can tailor their store’s social settings according to customer comfort levels. 

When brands provide experiences that allow their customers to form connections, their customers will, in turn, develop a deeper affiliation with the brand.

3. Cost Efficiency

Let’s talk numbers

Running a physical store can feel like an endless money pit. Rent, heating, utilities, security, taxes, and so much more (gross, right?) just to keep the doors open. And that’s before staffing costs. 

Thankfully, running a virtual store is a different ball game altogether! 

No rent, No staff and no weather a business has to defend its store against.

With a virtual store, the only bill you’ll see is for store design and setup. And guess what? With Odyssey,  it’s all completely free. 

Think about it. Businesses can lower product costs by avoiding the expenses of physical stores.  

Better prices for the customers and a lighter burden on the business!

4. Sustainability

A virtual store frees businesses of physical store costs. It reduces their carbon footprint. 

Let’s be real; in today’s world, the call for change is loud and clear… And in 2024, sustainability is no longer just a choice but a must-have for any business. 

2024 will be a crucial turning point where sustainability meets shopper satisfaction. And as a commitment to our planet shines in shopping this year, so will the smiles of those navigating online store environments that aren’t only engaging but eco-conscious.

5. Global Accessibility

Think about that one pop-up store from your favourite brand that you would give anything to visit. 

Except you live in London. 

And the pop-up was in LA. 

At Christmas. 

For two days only. 

Virtual stores break down geographical barriers. They ensure everyone has access to exclusive brand experiences, regardless of their location.

They level the playing field. Everyone, regardless of circumstances, enjoys an equally enriching shopping experience.

For brands, this translates to a surge in customer engagement. Think about it: there are no limitations on who can stroll through their digital doors. There’ll be a flood of visitors eager to explore.

With that in mind, 2024 is the year to go global

6. Highly Shareable

Word-of-mouth marketing is a business’s best friend.

People crave new experiences. And when they get them, they talk. 

74% of people use social media to make purchasing decisions. Virtual stores generate highly shareable content for social media. Their novelty and uniqueness set them apart. Early adopters are ahead of the competition. 

And what is the best part for the customers seeing the user-generated content? 

They don’t have to trek across town or take a train to join in on the fun. 

The store is only a click away.

Wrapping up…

Customers crave instant access to new, immersive experiences. The virtual store is emerging as a positive, easy-to-integrate force for change. 

And the best part about this new trend? The magnetic allure of the virtual store isn’t just rooted in its novelty. It’s already reshaping how customers shop, connect, and engage with brands.

Here’s to 2024, the dawn of the virtual store age. An era where the shopping experience will know no limits.