November 27, 2007 / 6:05 PM / 12 years ago

Store adds new dimension to online shopping

The Brookstone Inc. virtual store is shown in this screen grab taken on November 27, 2007. REUTERS/handout

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Consumers looking to avoid crowded malls and the tedium of online shopping can now shop in a virtual 3-dimensional store.

Specialty retailer Brookstone Inc. opened the virtual doors to its 3-dimensional store, which combines a Second Life-like visual experience with real merchandise customers can buy.

“The 3-D brings that fun part of shopping back. When you go into a physical store, there is that sort of energy around ‘what am I going to find?’ and there’s always that discovery process,” Greg Sweeney, a vice-president at Brookstone, said in an interview.

The virtual store replicates the look and layout of a real store. Customers can move through the aisles and browse and zoom on products using a mouse and keyboard. Detailed information is available by stopping in front of an item.

“We think it really appeals to a younger audience for us, a demographic probably 25 to 40... because of the almost gaming nature of it,” said Sweeney.

Certainly those adept at navigating through a virtual world will find the environment familiar. For new users, it will take some getting used to, Sweeney added. will still offer its wares in the conventional way, but offers the 3-D store as an alternative.

“It really helps the evolution of the internet shopping experience,” said Sweeney.

Reporting by Naomi Kim; editing by Patricia Reaney

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