Industry Insights

What is a Virtual Store?

As consumer behaviors and expectations evolve, the e-commerce interface also evolves. Virtual stores are a new type of digital shopping experience that provide more engagement and immersion for a brand’s customers. These immersive, 360-degree experiences live on a brand’s e-commerce site and are available to access via mobile or desktop. Customers can navigate around the 3D space, similar to how they would browse a real-life store.

Why are virtual stores needed?

Amazon created the traditional e-commerce interface 25 years ago to sell books but it has not changed since. Most e-commerce sites continue to use the monotonous grid of thumbnails on a white background, regardless of brand, category or collection. However, with virtual stores, brands are able to offer consumers an experiential online experience that is highly visual and creative.

Virtual stores inspire consumers by contextualizing merchandising in fantastically creative environments. With a virtual store, custom designs are possible for every brand, category and collection. Brands are able to showcase curated products in contextual environments that enable consumers to visualize their usage. Using CGI technology, products are merchandised in a virtual store, allowing customers to ‘pick them up’ as they move around.

Virtual stores can house engaging content and features, catering to younger audiencesa valuable target for many brands. Millennials and Gen Z expect visual content and interactivity in online experiences, because of gaming and social media. 

Virtual stores have a natural interface for digital shopping, making this an intuitive experience for any demographic. They are easy to access with a web link, and don’t require an app download or a Virtual Reality (VR) headset.

Virtual Stores and the Metaverse

As explained in the “The Metaverse is the New Mall”, the metaverse is a connected, 3D virtual world. Here, consumers are able to interact in real time with the digital environment and everything and everyone in it. Virtual stores serve as the starting point for brands to enter the metaverse.

Virtual stores also enable brands to connect with younger consumers; they provide brands with valuable analytical data and insights into consumer behavior. Obsess provides detailed, anonymized first-party data on every consumer interaction that occurs within a brands’ own virtual store.

“A brand can see how many people are visiting each section of the virtual store, how much time they are spending in each section, which products they are selecting and the items they are adding to their cart among other things.” -AdAge

Today, brands and retailers globally are already using virtual stores on their websites for a variety of different purposes. Brands are creating unique and memorable experiences for their customers, increasing engagement, sales and brand loyalty. The Obsess experiential e-commerce platform enables brands to create photorealistic 3D virtual stores with full e-commerce integration. See below for some examples of how brands are using virtual stores:

Ralph Lauren Virtual Stores

Ralph Lauren offered their global audience a unique online experience by virtualizing their physical retail stores. Through their virtual stores, they created a hybrid experience combining brick-and-mortar and online shopping. This allows consumers to virtually step into the elegant world of Ralph Lauren’s iconic retail spaces around the world from their own home. Read more about The RL Virtual Experience in this Forbes article

Charlotte Tilbury Virtual Stores

The Charlotte Tilbury virtual store is an immersive, three-dimensional shopping environment guided by a “Magic Charlotte” avatar. In the virtual store, customers can explore, shop, receive personalized advice and product recommendations, join live events and watch tutorials. Read more about the Charlotte Tilbury experience here.  

American Girl Virtual Store and Museum

For American Girl, Obsess developed two virtual experiences — a digital version of the brand’s famed Rockefeller Center flagship and a virtual museum that has no real-world equivalent. “Our ultimate goal is to create a completely different way for customers to engage with and shop American Girl online,” said Stacy Carpenter, User Experience Senior Manager at American Girl in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Read more about the American Girl virtual experiences here.   

theSkimm Virtual Holiday Village

theSkimm’s Virtual Holiday Village is a virtually created holiday market set in an outdoor winter wonderland resembling Bryant Park in NYC. The virtual market is meant to inspire gifting; consumers can travel from cabin to cabin and to shop products. Read more about theSkimm’s Virtual Holiday Experience here

Learn more about how leading brands are leveraging virtual stores by clicking here. If you’re interested in creating a virtual store for your brand, book a demo or email us at



© 2024 Obsess, Inc. all rights reserved.


Obsess is the leading experiential e-commerce platform enabling brands and retailers to serve immersive and highly interactive 3D virtual experiences that drive conversion, customer engagement, and brand loyalty amongst a new generation of gaming-fluent consumers. Obsess uses its proprietary virtual shopping platform and VR/AR technology to enable brands and retailers to set up 3D 360 digital storefronts on their websites.

© 2024 Obsess, Inc. all rights reserved.