The virtual store enables shoppers to browse through a 360-degree view of Cost Plus World Market’s holiday selection and make purchases within it.

To better bridge the in-store and online shopping experience for the imminent holiday season, Cost Plus World Market launched its first virtual holiday store.

The store enables shoppers to virtually peruse, add items to their carts and purchase the home goods retailer’s more than 550 holiday products. Shoppers can access the virtual store from the Cost Plus World Market homepage—or via worldmarket.com/virtual-store. Cost Plus Word Market operates an ecommerce site, where consumers can browse by category or with the search box, as is typical for online shopping. The virtual shop digitizes in-store merchandising at a time when consumers may be hesitant to visit stores.

Cost Plus World Market tapped virtual experience vendor Rightpoint to create the virtual store, built on virtual tour software platform Matterport. The retailer declined to reveal the cost of the new feature.

“We wanted to harness the power of our joyful holiday retail experience and bring these moments to life for our customers from the comfort of their couches,” says Adrian Stevens, senior vice president, chief marketing officer, head of ecommerce and digital strategy at Cost Plus World Market. “Rightpoint has been a valued partner to help us bring this to life—from strategy and vision to execution.”

The virtual holiday store is a 360-degree capture of Cost Plus World’s physical environment, ported into a digital experience. It allows customers to navigate through the aisles and shop for products, says Tom Quish, senior vice president and head of design at Rightpoint. Shoppers can browse and buy via their web browsers, but it also works using virtual reality headsets. Shoppers can navigate the aisles by clicking on circles on the floor, similar to how Google Maps’ “street view” works.  To view products, they click on a snowflake icon that displays product information and enables them to add the item to their cart and purchase.

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It took about eight weeks from the initial concept to launch the virtual store, Quish says. The vendor chose to use Matterport’s platform because it afforded Rightpoint the ability to implement more customization to achieve Cost Plus World Market’s desired customer experience, he says.

The retailer developed the holiday store based on shopper feedback. Cost Plus World Market learned that its customers like to browse its selection rather than going out for one needed item. While the site does not mirror any particular location, it reflects the retailer’s typical seasonal areas, Stevens says.

The virtual holiday store is part of an effort to boost holiday sales, Quish says. “The level of customization, in combination with the ability to shop holiday categories and products while being inspired by seasonal collections, makes this an experience unlike any other.”

So far, Cost Plus World has had an “incredible early response,” Stevens says. Traffic and engagement are both exceeding expectations for the retailer. Shoppers are spending more time on its site and making purchases via the virtual store, he says without revealing specifics.

Shoppers share their experience browsing Cost Plus World Market's virtual holiday store.

Shoppers share their experience browsing Cost Plus World Market’s virtual holiday store.

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“We hope to continue to see usage through the holiday season, given the initial customer excitement,” Stevens says. “It will be one of the ways we continue to encourage our customers to stay safe amid the pandemic, along with our contactless curbside pickup and thorough store safety procedures.”

Cost Plus World Market already has its next virtual store in the works for the spring and is considering launching an “always-on” variation of the store for its non-seasonal products, Steven says.

Cost Plus World Market is owned by Bed Bath & Beyond, No. 58 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.

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