Real-lfe retailers are setting up virtual stores on 3D virtual worlds such as Second Life. Retailers like Amercian Apparel, Sears, Circuit City are already there. With around 11 million residents as of date and about 40000 users online at any given time, Second Life provides Retailers a platfrom to engage with their customers in a unique way.
According to a recent report by Gartner titled, "Predicts 2008: How Shoppers and Technology Will Change Retail", 20% of the world's largest retailers will launch a presence in virtual worlds or online games by 2010. This they will do to study, learn and anticipate the impact of virtual worlds on the retailers' overall businesses.
Commerce is not much of a factor so far but something that will evolve over time and provide multi-channeling options for retailers.
Companies like Brookstone have opened 3D stores (outside Second Life) and are selling real mechandise customers can buy.
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.
See these videos to experience navigating through the Virtual stores.