In Crocs’ holiday store this year, the tree is trimmed, the Christmas lights are twinkling and seasonally appropriate products like fleece-lined clogs and puff boots have been given prime placement. In many ways, the shop looks like any other Crocs retail location—except that this year, consumers do not even need to leave their couches to visit it. Crocs, like a growing number of other retailers, is investing in a virtual holiday store.
Available via desktop or mobile, the 3D immersive online experience opened Nov. 9 and will run through Dec. 31. Consumers can browse and buy products within branded rooms, take an interactive quiz and play a game.
“It’s about how can we improve the online shopping experience to make it more sticky and have brands have a more immersive experience that’s more memorable than going to a website that’s just like a grid of thumbnails,” said Neha Singh, founder and chief executive of Obsess, the software platform that is partnering with Crocs on its new offering.
After a 2021 holiday season that saw some brands including American Girl and Ralph Lauren dipping a toe into virtual waters, a bevy of retailers such as Crocs are now jumping in. These companies are recognizing the need for a fully fleshed-out virtual store offering as a way to not only connect with consumers, such as the digitally native Gen Zers, and offer them more branded experiences, but also collect and monetize their valuable customer data. Some stores, like Crocs, are 3D experiences linked to a brand’s regular e-commerce site. Others are stores within gaming platforms such as Roblox, where Pacsun operates a store of virtual clothes for avatars. All have the same goal—to deepen consumer connections and ultimately boost margins.