Virtual Tour for a Digital Age

BY HBSDealer Staff

Retail websites often strive to recreate the look and feel of their brick-and-mortar location. McDaniels Do it Center in Snohomish, Wash., goes several steps further — offering a virtual tour of the entire store.

The tour is possible through a technology from a New York-based vendor called Instant 360, which promotes a “Google Street view inside your business.” McDaniel’s hardware owner Brad McDaniel said the feature – planted front-and-center on the McDaniel’s Do it center website – helps show off the store and gives the customer a sense of the breadth of offering. And while it might not be the best way to direct customers to specific SKUs, it does allow them to see everything in the store.

“People can see that, yes, we have sporting goods, or, yes, we have a lawn and garden offering,” McDaniel told HBSDealer. “Plus, it’s a fun thing to have on our website.”

[Take the tour here]

According to stats on the Instant 360 website, two out of three consumers want more virtual tours. And additionally, virtual tours help double interest in business listings, with particular impact among 18 to 34 year olds.

For a web site enhancement project, the Instant 360 solution was relatively inexpensive, McDaniel said — under $1,000. All it took was a specialized camera/machine to spend a day rolling slowly through the aisles to capture the visuals.

“You’ve got to try new things all the time, and keep trying them,” McDaniel said. “People are using their smart phones all the time, and these digital tools to reach them are increasingly important.”


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