Leading e-commerce platform Obsess just got a boost, with Tuesday’s announcement that it secured a $10 million Series A funding round.
This brings the company’s total funding, whose partners include fashion and beauty brands like Coach, Tommy Hilfiger, Charlotte Tilbury, Dermalogica and Mary Kay, to $13.4 million.
“Immersive shopping experiences are becoming a standard part of e-commerce and forward-thinking brands are using our technology platform to provide shoppers with a rich, interactive way to shop for their products,” said Neha Singh, founder and chief executive officer of Obsess, in a release.
“Younger shoppers who have grown up interacting with video games and watching esports expect to be able to interact with brands in real time as they shop online and 3D virtual shopping experiences will soon be table stakes for brands in every retail category.”
The funding will help the e-commerce platform focus on its global expansion and product development. In addition, in six to 12 months, it will launch into other verticals like home, consumer packaged goods and entertainment.
In the fourth quarter, the platform will launch social shopping capabilities so consumers can shop virtually with a friend and talk with an influencer, a sales associate or even a designer.
“It’s bringing that human element into the shopping experience when you are in the virtual store—it’s about how to make these experiences more human,” says Singh, on a phone interview.
The world of virtual shopping continues to attract more retailers and players as businesses want more engagement online. The executive views most of her platform’s current competition as agencies hired by brands and retailers to create experiential sites online.
“Sometimes these are one-off, they’re not built on a SaaS platform,” Singh says. “We have built this platform that we can reuse—it’s tried and tested. We’ve worked a lot on performance, we’re really focused on customizing it for each brand.”
Like video games, the virtual experience looks very real.
“You can create whatever environment you want just like a video game,” Singh says. “With this technology, you’re not restricted by physical real estate. You can make it a planet or make it under water, brands are getting really creative.”
Brands use the virtual experience for a variety of reasons. Coach, for instance, created a 3D virtual showroom that replicated its Fifth Avenue flagship store.
“The digital showroom enables wholesale buyers to experience our new collections each season without having to fly in to see products in person, reducing the carbon footprint of our business and speeding the buying process,” said Giovanni Zaccariello, senior vice president of Global Visual Experience at Coach. “We also use our virtual showroom to share our visual merchandising guidelines with our global teams.”
Other brands, like Charlotte Tilbury, set up virtual flagship stores that they can customize throughout year, such as decorating the online store for the holidays.
Dermalogica’s new virtual shopping site plays cool music, features an ultra-modern design and has designated sections devoted to age-specific products, brightening skin, cleansers and pro services. You can live chat an expert, watch videos and listen to an expert introduce new products.
“Educating consumers is one of our core priorities as a brand,” said Kenna Wynne-Jones, associate director of brand marketing at Dermalogica. “We are committed to meeting our customers’ unique skin care needs however and whenever they prefer to shop, and many of them prefer to shop from home.”
The new round of funding was led by Jump Capital, with participation from the Venture Reality Fund and WXR Fund.
“COVID-19 has compelled brands to prioritize e-commerce, but many are beginning to understand that their online experiences are primarily filtered JPG images, which are hardly engaging or effective for discovery,” said Yelena Shkolnik, partner, Jump Capital.
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