File this one under innovative but ultimately a little too much (in my opinion) to make a dent in the highly competitive world of e-commerce.
VirtualEShopping.com combines social networking features with a three dimensional shopping environemnt. The site bills itself as an “alternative to mall traffic, pulsing crowds and parking headaches” (isn’t that what the holidays are all about?)
Shoppers must download the mall software (free) to enter the virtual shopping mall and create a persona to represent themselves or interact with other shoppers. Once setup is complete however, they can view storefronts from familiar retailers like Apple, Best Buy and Footlocker and from unusual web retailers like Prankplace, Preschoolians, and ShopIrish.
Retailers offer coupons, have salesbots and sales personas in front of their stores and have storefronts, mall carts, billboards and info’ kiosks to woo customers to shop. Special events like seminars, concerts, guest appearances and contests are held on the main stage in the mall atrium.
While I won’t be doing any virtual shopping in a 3D environment, I have to admit that it’s quite creative. VirtualEShopping is offering a $500 gift card for new users. The contest requires no registration or activity completion on the site such as inviting friends.