Virtual Storefronts: Retailers Get in the Game

By: James Flippin · June 12, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

J.Crew’s Beach House

J.Crew is widely known as one of the preppiest mall staples. Still, most of its customers probably didn’t expect to get a beach house invite anytime soon. But, as part of its 40th anniversary, J.Crew is indeed extending invites — with one catch. J.Crew’s beach house is fully virtual.

The legacy apparel company has partnered with the experiential ecommerce platform Obsess to “reach more of the people who love the brand in a bigger way.” For J.Crew, the fact that this took the form of a virtual beach house was a “no-brainer,” according to its CMO, Derek Yarbrough.

At the virtual storefront, customers will be able to play a series of games, including a scavenger hunt and a quiz on catalog covers, in order to access a secret lighthouse. Or, as you might’ve guessed, they can do what they’d do in a typical J.Crew store — shop until they drop.

Virtual Shopping

J.Crew is not the first retailer to embrace the virtual storefront. Obsess has worked with dozens of big name brands, including Ralph Lauren (RL), Mattel (MAT), and Crocs (CROX). The main goal is to “gamify” the shopping experience and make it more engaging for customers.

If you’ve ever worked retail, you know the vast majority of customers who come into a store are “just browsing” — which can lead to leaving within minutes if an item doesn’t catch their eye. But with a game or quiz to complete, customers are incentivized to engage with the brand for longer. Some companies even offer discounts or promotions as prizes for completing challenges.

So far, the results have been remarkable. One of Obsess’s customers, a luxury jewelry brand, saw the average order value on its virtual store surge by 111% compared to its traditional ecommerce site. Meanwhile, at Mattel’s virtual American Girl store, shoppers spend 1,000% longer than the average time spent on the company’s site.

The Future of Shopping

Aside from exploding in popularity, shopping online has not really changed much in the past 20 years. It still tends to involve scrolling through pages, looking at pictures of products. With its virtual storefronts, Obsess is looking to make online shopping fully immersive.

Obsess even lets customers create an avatar, further personalizing the experience. And one brand found shoppers with an avatar were 184% more likely to buy something.

For consumers, even if you’re not looking to spend any money, free front row tickets to the future of shopping is a tough proposition to pass on. And at a beach house to boot? Online shopping has never sounded so whimsical.

Looking for more stories like this? Check out On the Money — SoFi’s one-stop-shop for news, trends, and tips!

Check it out

Please understand that this information provided is general in nature and shouldn’t be construed as a recommendation or solicitation of any products offered by SoFi’s affiliates and subsidiaries. In addition, this information is by no means meant to provide investment or financial advice, nor is it intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision or recommendation to buy or sell any asset. Keep in mind that investing involves risk, and past performance of an asset never guarantees future results or returns. It’s important for investors to consider their specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile before making an investment decision.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. These links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement. No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this content.
Communication of SoFi Wealth LLC an SEC Registered Investment Advisor
SoFi isn’t recommending and is not affiliated with the brands or companies displayed. Brands displayed neither endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks and service marks referenced are property of their respective owners.

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender