"Are You Ready for E-tailing 2.0?", Paul Hemp, Harvard Business Review, October 2006
HBR's editor Paul Hemp does a follow-up piece to his "Avatar-Based Marketing". The argument is similar to the one I made in the thesis: in-game shopping experience combines the best of the two worlds - the wealth of information, the wide product range and the convenience of online commerce with the social aspects of brick-and-mortar stores that online retailers hasn't been able to replicate.
"As the experience becomes more realistic, there will be a return to the "social and recreational aspect of shopping," a crucial element of bricks-and-mortar retailing that was lost when retailers went online, says Bob Moore, a sociologist at the Palo Alto Research Center who studies virtual human interactions. One can envision a group of teenage girls arranging to meet at a virtual store to try on clothes, comment on each other’s choices, and ultimately choose something, real or virtual, to buy. (Though the sales receipts from virtual items are small, getting people to sport branded items in a virtual world has its own benefits.)"
"But virtual shopping expeditions may be driven more by the urge to chat than the urge to buy. Virtual shopping "would give friends something to do as they socialize online instead of simply sitting and IM-ing each other," says Michael K. Wilson, head of the company that runs There."
"Even eBay, with its jumble-sale character, might be transformed from a tool for finding a particular item to a world in which people could rummage together through piles of virtual stuff, the equivalent of an afternoon of real-world antiquing in the country with friends—an event that, even if no one is looking for anything in particular, inevitably results in someone’s purchasing something."