CyberShop will introduce an interactive shopping service on Internet, American Online or CompuServe during 1995. Consumers will be able to shop for furniture within a virtual reality format, beginning with 50 stock keeping units (SKUs) that represent different furniture categories. Up to eight weeks later, as many as 1 million SKUs will be available. Consumers will be able to coordinate products very easily.
You’ve heard of virtual reality–maybe even tried out a game or two with the headset. Now, get ready for the virtual retailer: CyberShop, a new retail alternative coming in January to a computer screen near you.
CyberShop is the brainchild of Jeffery Tauber, who describes the company as “the first home furnishings retailer devoted exclusively to interactive, on-line retailing.” What this means to consumers is that when they dial the Internet or on-line services like Prodigy, CompuServe or America On-line, they will have access to a vast array of home furnishings products, including furniture, home textiles, housewares, electronics and accessories.
Tauber was previously president of Avanti Linens, a leading embellished towel producer, and also worked for Bloomingdale’s for five years as a buyer and divisional merchandise manager.
“I’ve seen the business from both the retailing and manufacturing sides, and I really feel this will revolutionize the industry,” Tauber said. “As a retailer, we will be available to consumers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but we don’t have the walls or constraints of traditional retailers. We are creating a new retail paradigm which throws the old rules right out the door.”
CyberShop will unveil its first products on the Internet in January, with a test of 50 SKUs across all product categories. The full CyberShop “retail environment” will encompass 500,000 to 1 million SKUs, and will be available six to eight weeks later.
Through the various on-line services, CyberShop initially will be available to 30 million consumers. The company also will be offered on the new Microsoft system shipping in 1995, which is expected to add 10 million consumers, Tauber said. The system will not charge membership fees.
“This is really a tremendous business opportunity,” Tauber said. “CyberShop offers access to millions of consumers and has virtually unlimited growth potential. On-line shopping is expected to be a $20 billion annual business by the year 2000.”
CyberShop will emphasize brand names from leading manufacturers, and the company is currently in discussions with suppliers to develop its product mix, Tauber said. “We are helping manufacturers present their products to consumers in an ideal environment,” he explained. “Through the computer visuals, they can show the products the way they would in their own showrooms.”
The CyberShop computer program will allow consumers to easily access coordinate products, as well as related accessory items or different styles at the same price point. The company also is developing a national bridal registry, CyberBride, and a corporate gift service, CyberGift, which will enable customers to purchase by category or price level.
“It really creates the ultimate service environment,” Tauber said. “Through their own PCs, consumers will be able to personalize their shopping experience. This will save time, make shopping easier, and make it more fun.”