What retailers have noticed about online shopping is that most people go to their computer for a specific item but not as much to browse with friends as a social activity. Some websites are trying to change this. Second Life is a computer application that turns online shopping into a virtual world. The best way I can describe it is a mixture between online shopping and playing the Sims.
In order to join this virtual world, a new user must download the software and register with the site. This is all free. Once you’re on, you create an avatar. Once the software is launched, your avatar is standing in what looks like a video game composed of all three-dimensional graphics.
All money in Second Life is in “Linden Dollars (L$).” This is because Linden Labs is the company that developed and runs Second Life. There’s a currency exchange where users can buy Linden Dollars with real US money or trade their Linden Dollars that they won’t be using back to U.S. dollars. With Linden Dollars users can purchase land in Second Life and build whatever they want. This gives creative freedom to users to build structures that are physically impossible in the real world by writing code using a built-in scripting language. With this code, users can also create objects that can be sold to other members, like clothing or jewelry for their avatars, or furniture for their virtual homes. Second Life is also very social. As avatars cross paths they can communicate via body language and instant messaging.
In May 2006, American Apparel became the first real-word retailer to open a store in Second Life. The outlet is still present in Second Life. While in American Apparel you have the option to purchase displayed items with Linden dollars for your avatar to wear. There is also a “Go to page” button which will launch a browser and take you to American Apparel’s company website for the real version of the jacket. With the social aspect of the site you would be able to ask users around you what they think about the jacket.
Though this is a cool idea and might be fun to mess around with for a couple days, I don’t think that having a video game with three dimensional graphics adequately replaces shopping. The social aspect could be fun; You could have the chance to ask many people you don’t know where they are buying clothes and what they think a good store is on Second Life. However, I don’t think that teenagers are going to start choosing to stay home to play a video game of shopping instead of going to the mall with their friends.
pictures from: Social Shopping: How technology is reshaping the consumer experience in apparel retailing