Bloomingdale’s first virtual department store for the holidays

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Diving brief:

  • Continuing its digital experimentation, Bloomingdale’s tapped virtual experiences developer Emperia to create a multi-brand virtual store for the holidays, according to a press release shared with Retail Dive.
  • The store offers virtual spaces for brands such as Ralph Lauren, Chanel and Nespresso, as well as a beauty and spa room and a party room. Virtual store visitors can move between each brand via an elevator in the store, according to the announcement.
  • In the Ralph Lauren section, shoppers visit a virtual vacation forest that guides them to a ski lodge. In the Nespresso section, visitors are taken to a Parisian café, according to the press release.

Overview of the dive:

Bloomingdale’s partnership with Emperia is part of the retailer’s experimentation with virtual stores. To celebrate Bloomingdale’s 150th anniversary, the two collaborated during New York Fashion Week in September to create a virtual boutique. The store featured Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, David Yurman and other high-end brands and offered virtual games, an anniversary-themed collection and a video showing the retailer’s evolution over time.

“Emperia believes that the multi-brand virtual experience will become the new department store of the future,” Olga Dogadkina, co-founder and CEO of Emperia, said in a statement. “The virtual environment offers endless opportunities for brand creativity, design and user engagement, breaking down accessibility barriers and physical space limitations – providing a new technological playground for retailers. “

Although visitors can shop for different brands and have different experiences in Bloomingdale’s virtual stores, other elements of virtual shopping are still in development. A July Forrester report predicted that retailers’ virtual shopping experiences will be highly immersive in 10 years, but shoppers still won’t be able to travel from one virtual environment to another with their digital products. The report also warned that consumers might not use or feel comfortable in metaverse environments.

It is unclear to what extent consumers are interested in the metaverse. A Wunderman Thompson Intelligence survey released last year found that just over a third (38%) of consumers are aware of the metaverse concept, but 79% of Gen Z consumers and 80% of millennials said that their daily lives depended on technology. A Piper Sandler survey found that 26% of teens own a virtual reality device, but only 5% use it daily. About half (48%) of teens surveyed by Piper Sandler are unsure or uninterested in the Metaverse.