Obsess offers solution for brands to build virtual stores
Obsess, an e-commerce platform that provides real-life shopping experiences online, is now offering a solution that lets brands build their own virtual stores, CEO Neha Singh tells Axios.
Why it matters: With e-commerce sales slowing and incentives such as free returns being curbed, retailers need more carrots to entice consumers online.
Details: The tool, which Obsess calls Ava, consists of a self-serve content management system that provides 3D editing and rendering technology.
- Brands can add and place products (particularly, affordable 2D images), embed media content, and customize merchandising and styling in their own virtual stores.
- Brands access the backend by paying an annual subscription fee — competitive with the cost of a single marketing campaign, Singh notes.
- The startup works with companies such as Ralph Lauren, Charlotte Tilbury, Coach, L'Oréal, Crocs, Disney Music Group and NBCUniversal, among others.
Between the lines: Before the launch of the tool, Obsess created brands' virtual stores for them.
- But by letting them build their own 3D experiences online, brands can update their stores at a more frequent pace throughout the year.
- In addition, brands can integrate SKU data and product imagery from their e-commerce sites into the stores.
Zoom in: Virtual stores let consumers browse for products and experiences rather than be directed toward them, which is what e-commerce largely consists of today.
- When Singh started the company in 2017, she wanted to incorporate the kind of 3D graphics you find in gaming into the online shopping experience.
- And like gaming, it could still be accessed via a mobile phone or desktop browser (as well as via Meta's Oculus Quest VR goggles).
- Singh says she also saw how luxury brands, which would spend $1 million on a live event, struggled to build their online presence.
By the numbers: The startup has 11 million unique users in its virtual stores, which so far have accounted for 100 million interactions.
- "We are a SaaS platform and our margins are in line with that," Singh adds, declining to disclose revenue.
Catch up fast: Obsess raised a $10 million Series A round in 2021 led by Jump Capital, with participation from the Venture Reality Fund and WXR Fund, bringing its total to $13.4 million.
- It has no plans to raise money in the near future, though, Singh says.
Of note: Singh is both a graduate of MIT and a former head of product at Vogue magazine, bridging the worlds of fashion and engineering.
The bottom line: "Our thesis was never to be a replacement for retail stores, it was how to make online shopping better," Singh says.