Home Kinset: Like Second Life For Shopping

Kinset: Like Second Life For Shopping

Boston-based Kinset yesterday announced the launch of their flagship 3D virtual world shopping platform. The downloadable Kinset client loads up a virtual shopping mall that looks and feels rather similar to Second Life, sans the interaction with other humans (though I couldn’t tell if that was part of the experience, or simply because no people were using the software yet).

During the public beta period, Kinset is operating two stores, BunchaBooks and ‘LectricTown, both fed by Amazon. Browsing the virtual shelves was easy enough, if a bit clunky. Mousing over fuzzy product images brought up additional information in the sidebar, and pressing F7 adds a product to your shopping cart. I couldn’t figure out how to actually purchase products, and Kinset froze up before I had a chance to try to figure it out. Needless to say, I wasn’t very compelled to put much more effort into finding out.

The big question is why? Shopping on traditional 2D sites like Amazon offers users clearer and more numerous images of products, as well as the same information. Some sites even offer 3D animated views of products, and many ecommerce sites use products like Adobe’s Scene7 to deliver high quality product photos that Kinset can’t compete with. Further, shopping on traditional web sites is faster, generally makes it easier to find specific items, and anyone who wants to set up shop in a virtual world can choose from more established players in the market, such as Second Life.

And, to make matters worse, after all the hype surrounding ecommerce in virtual worlds, it hasn’t panned out for many companies. But in spite of all that, Kinset has managed to rope in two high profile clients. Brookstone will open a Kinset store in November and Tweeter could have a store open on their platform by the end of January. The reason, according to the Boston Globe, appears to be all about control.

Your friendly, er, asleep ‘LectroTown sales rep…

“Brookstone vice president Greg Sweeney says he’d considered building a store in Second Life, where such retailers as Sears have set up shop, but he was concerned that it wouldn’t give him ‘enough control in being able to shape the experience,'” writes the Globe’s Scott Kirsner. Tweeter also considered Second Life or There.com, but decided the experience was “too clunky,” reports the paper.

Kinset is founded by serial entrepreneur John Butler whose first startup, publicly-traded Applix Inc., sold for $339 million this month, and by Scott Evernden. It is self-funded.

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